You know the old saying: Power corrupts, and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely I don’t have quite that many slides, but I do have a few wordy ones—but we’ll be moving back and forth between slides and some small-group conversations, and I encourage questions/comments at any point along the way!
If we had more time I’d ask you to check my assumptions against your realities before diving into the larger conversation. But for today I’m going to ask you to accept my premise that in general we have a problem in education with promoting “powerful learning.” How do we begin thinking about it? First, as an essential foundation of the perspective I’d like to share with you involves listening to students and taking them seriously, I’d like to share a student quote with you:
What do you think she meant by this distinction? Paul Ramsden, Australia: learning should be about changing the ways in which learners conceptualize the world around them, [not just] being able to repeat facts.
Just as students re-conceptualize the world, we need to re-conceptualize teaching & assessment as well: teaching as creating the conditions and facilitating the processes that make that learning possible (Ramsden) assessment as understanding & improving that learning (assessment AS learning)
How lectures can model good discourse in the discipline
So the question is, how well-prepared are our students for making their way in that world, & how well are we doing in helping prepare them? If our collective answer to both questions is “great,” then we don’t have a lot to talk about, and we can all go home and pat ourselves on our respective backs! ) But continuing to operate on my assumption that there’s room for improvement here, I’d like to explore some sources of the problem.
Individual differences in student performance undoubtedly exist—question is why? (skills, style, strategies, motivation, cultural backgrounds, dispositions all no doubt play a part) demands for complexity of thinking as citizens, parents, partners, workers, not just students goals described earlier involve transformation of understandings, not just transmission of knowledge, and that's difficult (and often resisted--Calvin overhead) 3) does not adequately and appropriately engage students' interpretive and meaning-making capacities we know far more about learning than we use effectively (gap between understanding & practice) increasing emphasis on classroom research & scholarship of teaching encouraging 4) construction of meaning fundamental to understanding these concerns involves issues of identity and self-concept as well as cognitive issues teachers' also have qualitatively different conceptions of teaching (cross-cultural interview study) [but that's another story]
transformation of understandings is harder work for students than receiving transmitted knowledge (and often resisted– A lot of us feel overwhelmed at times—though perhaps we’re not as blithely comfortable with the simple solution as Calvin is!
This wouldn’t be so painfully funny if it weren’t grounded in at least some reality—and whether we like it or not the perception is a common one. There’s a little pain of self-recognition in this admittedly exaggerated (and funny) perspective—but real learning is more than just what you need to know later (and hopefully more than just 2 hours worth!)
Differences in performance undoubtedly exist—question is why? Socialization: (outsider insider)
The question we might consider in this situation is whose meaning-making really matters? And it’s this notion of meaning-making that we want to concentrate on this evening in thinking about the problem of real learning—and to do so I want to introduce you to the spirit and vision of Bill Perry.
[read quote] This is a good introduction to Bill Perry’s voice—Bill died 5 years ago, but his major publication, originally in 1970, is back in print after a long absence, and I think his work is as relevant to education as ever.
Differences in performance undoubtedly exist—question is why? Skills/styles/strategies/Socialization: (outsider insider) DEVELOPMENT: specifically epistemological development
Assign each table 1 essay—or have them agree on 1 themselves
Way of understanding learning as transformation--reconstruction of one's ideas about knowledge, about learning, about self background for study--Harvard, 50’s & 60’s, published 1970 not a straight, smooth linear process perspectives don’t reside in students, but in the “in-between”--the relationship between learner and learning context Perspectives are building blocks, each subsuming & expanding upon what preceded it certain strengths & inherent sources of confusion & disequilibrium shifting definitions of personal integrity & responsibility
Right-wrong answer focus
Quantity, problem-solving, tools to find answers
Perry’s cow vs. bull story (reflecting 2/4 distinction) Pure relativism of position 4—the “anything goes” perspective
actually a 4/5 transition issue “fish” diagram of scheme: world opens up wide (too wide?) then narrows again as need for judgment and Commitment becomes clear, even in the face of shades of gray, and learner develops tools for structuring the chaos
The “S” at the center of my little schematic
Steven Pinker: naïve epistemologies & un-learning Knowing and the knower are inseparable Not just an accumulation of stuff, but a transformation in the way learners think about key topics (and learning itself) Building blocks that provide better capacity for grappling with the complexity of the world; empathy for “the other” is central to process
Given this understanding of the scheme and its connection to this notion of “real” learning, how might we use it in more specific ways to inform our approach to teaching/learning issues?
We’re living in a complex, uncertain and rapidly-changing world: The economic crisis, to name just one obvious example
NOT about dragging students kicking & screaming up some developmental hierarchy &quot; The future is an idea that guides us in the present, but it's only an idea. While we are helping people to develop, let us not forget to celebrate them as they are in this moment.&quot; (Perry) 2) Meet students where they are and build a bridge to where you want them to go (Vygotsky notion of scaffolding) 3) R. Kegan: people grow best where they continuously experience an ingenious blend of support and challenge; the rest is commentary
What we’re talking about is using these perspectives to help us create conditions for learning that would engage students and promote more effectively, and for a broader range of learners, the kind of real learning we seek
What we ARE talking about is understanding our students more fully so that we can meet them where they are and build bridges from their current understandings to where we want them to be
Grounded in Lee Knefelkamp and Carole Widick’s original dissertation work in mid-1970’s using Perry’s scheme included review and synthesis of work around teaching/learning Dimensions are continua, not dichotomous Examples: Structure: course context, basic definitions, guidelines and rehearsal opportunities for new learning tasks, detailed (but not overwhelming) instructions, … Diversity: variety and complexity of kinds of information, multiple perspectives, sources of material, competing theories, … (most college courses rich with diversity—needs to be balanced with structure and sequencing to be most effective) Involvement: issue of direct or experiential learning vs. vicarious learning—key is using various strategies (case studies, labs, projects, etc.) to encourage students to make connections between material and world outside of classroom, including their own lives Personalism: promoting “community of scholars”--encouraging interaction, open and respectful discussion and debate, taking risks; showing enthusiasm for subject matter and for learning, providing thorough and helpful feedback, …(not necessarily about self-disclosure)
Not just our students, but ourselves and our colleagues as well… Thank you, and I wish you continued hope, courage and success in your critical work with teachers.
[read quote] This captures one of the key challenges we face helping our students move beyond painting by numbers—there’s something comforting (not to mention less time-consuming!) about that simpler perspective—all we have to worry about is staying inside the lines! One of my favorite authors and thinkers, Michael Fullan, has written about the complexity of these issues in educational contexts from an organizational change perspective: “Emotion and hope: constructive concepts for complex times.” 1997, A. Hargreaves (Ed.), Rethinking Educational Change with Heart and Mind: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Yearbook , 169ff. It also, of course, takes courage, dedication and persistence on the part of teachers, especially in these days of increasing public scrutiny and calls for accountability. Which leads to my close—no neat and tidy answers, unfortunately, but one last Perry-ism that helps remind me, anyway, of what our focus should be:
Perry Scheme and Powerful Learning
March 2009 University of the Pacific Stockton, CA William S. Moore, Ph.D. 360-528-1809/360-786-5094 [email_address] http://www.perrynetwork.org Using a Developmental Perspective to Understand & Promote Powerful Learning
As you can clearly see on slide 397… Courtesy of “Dilbert” & Scott Adams Oh, no—not another case of PowerPoint poisoning!!!
“ Do you mean ‘really learning’ or ‘just learning’?” Student quoted in Bill Perry’s “ Sharing in the cost of growth,” from Clyde Parker, 1978
“ Powerful Learning”: Learning as Transforming Understanding … Being able to repeat facts and plug numbers into formulae to get the right answers is handy, even essential. But it is not what education is fundamentally about… Learning should be about changing the ways in which learners understand, or experience, or conceptualize the world around them … Paul Ramsden
View of Knowledge is the Key [Students] can improve their own skills of analysis and argument if they realize that knowledge, whether in lectures or in writing, is never a truckload of facts dumped into the driveway of the mind . Facts are always selected in the service of some idea and arranged to demonstrate it. Kate Chanock, 1999
Every complex question has a simple answer… … and it’s wrong. H.L. Mencken
Sources of Problems with Powerful Learning <ul><li>“ In over our heads” (R. Kegan) </li></ul><ul><li>Limitations of current educational practice </li></ul><ul><li>Range of individual differences among learners </li></ul>
Educational Practice? <ul><li>Basically, you learn two kinds of things in college: </li></ul><ul><li>Things you will need to know in later life (2 hours)… </li></ul><ul><li>Things you will NOT need to know in later life (1198 hours). </li></ul><ul><li>These are the things you learn in classes whose names end in ‘-ology’, ‘-osophy’, ‘-istry’, ‘-ics’, and so on. The idea is, you memorize these things, then write them down in little exam books, then forget them. If you fail to forget them you become a professor and have to stay in college the rest of your life. Dave Barry, 1981 </li></ul>
Explanations for Individual Differences in Learners <ul><li>Intelligence/ </li></ul><ul><li>aptitude </li></ul><ul><li>Skills/expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Learning styles </li></ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Dispositions </li></ul><ul><li>Socialization process </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive strategies </li></ul><ul><li>DEVELOPMENT </li></ul>
Community of Practice Learner Situated Learning Lave & Wenger, 1991 Learner Learner Learner Learner
Whose Meaning Matters the Most? Look! Do I sound crazy in saying that the students are the source of the meanings they will make of you? All right, so you feel you are making meaning for them; you know your subject matter, they do not. But it is the meaning they make of your meaning that matters! Obviously. Why am I shouting? After all, it is the meanings you make of my meanings that matter, and shouting will not help… William Perry, from The Modern American College , A. Chickering & Associates, 1981
The Perry Scheme as a Way to Understand the Problem
Exploring Student Perspectives on Learning <ul><li>Please review the essays you’ve been given and then discuss in small groups the following questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How would you characterize these students as learners from what is expressed in these essays? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What similarities and/or differences do I see across the essays? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In particular, consider three broad domains: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>View of knowledge and the nature/sources of learning? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appropriate role/s of the teacher ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appropriate role/s of the student and his/her peers? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In what ways are these student perspectives consistent (or not consistent) with my general perceptions of your students at Pacific? </li></ul>
AN EPISTEMOLOGICAL ‘ PILGRIM’S PROGRESS’ Right/Wrong ?????????????????????? ??? Right/Wrong SELF C C C C C C C C C C C Right/Wrong/????? Right/Wrong
Multiplicity Enters the Scene In college you should amass as much knowledge as you can so you can use it when you get out. Knowledge is the ability to answer questions, solve problems--not just knowing useless facts … The main job of college [is] giving you the tools to find the truth.
Taking Ownership of Learning In my ideal class…I would want students to have the drive to learn for themselves. Students should be able to take learning into their own hands and use their teachers as mentors and guides to help them through the unknowns of knowledge . Students and teachers would work together as a team to help each other get through the long and arduous process of learning…
Contributions of Perry Scheme to Understanding ‘Powerful’ Learning <ul><li>Reflects critical underlying assumptions about knowledge that influence classroom behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>Involves intellect and identity </li></ul><ul><li>Represents qualitative changes in </li></ul><ul><li>how people construct meaning and </li></ul><ul><li>interpret subject matter </li></ul><ul><li>Describes increasingly inclusive and </li></ul><ul><li>complex forms of thinking </li></ul>
Using the Perry Scheme as a Framework for Addressing the Problem
Why Does it Matter? Diversity, social problems, environmental issues, and the changing geopolitical situation all require minds that can grapple successfully with uncertainty, complexity and conflicting perspectives and still take stands that are both based on evidence, analysis and compassion and deeply centered in values. Craig Nelson, 1994
Instructional Implications of the Perry Scheme <ul><li>Design learning environments, don’t “develop” students” </li></ul><ul><li>Help make learning accessible—”building a bridge” for students </li></ul><ul><li>Balance challenge and support in the learning process </li></ul>
Design, Not Develop If the power [of the scheme] is to label students the better to develop them, we shall dehumanize them and ourselves. What’s more, as we do not possess such powers, we shall be defeated…
<ul><li>SUPPORT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunities for structuring and/or organizing those challenges </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encouraging students to take risks involved in new understandings </li></ul></ul><ul><li>CHALLENGE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunities for engagement with complexity & ambiguity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity of material, questions, perspectives, ways of thinking, etc. </li></ul></ul>Balancing Challenge & Support
Concluding Thoughts from Bill Perry This is our creative obligation as educators: to find ways to encourage.
Hope & Loss: Real Learning Takes Courage … It may be a great joy to discover a new and more complex way of thinking and seeing, but what do we do about the old simple world? What do we do about the hopes that we had invested and experienced in those simpler terms? When we leave those terms behind, are we to leave hope, too? Bill Perry, 1978 “ Sharing in the cost of growth”