Category Archives: Criticism of theories

Here we critically analyze popular theories

Higher Order Thinking Skills?

By Nathan Woods

Thinking taxonomies establish a hierarchy of thinking; ‘simple’ or ‘less -sophisticated’ thinking skills, such as describing, noticing, or remembering, are seen as inferior to ‘higher order’ thinking skills like analysis and evaluation. However, some popular taxonomies – such as Bloom’s Taxonomy – can over-simplify and misrepresent the nature of ‘higher order’ thinking.

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Education and the Politics of Culture

BY NATHAN WOODS

In 1993 Michael Apple wrote that, “Education is deeply implicated in the politics of culture. The curriculum is never a neutral assemblage of knowledge, somehow appearing in the texts and classrooms of a nation. It is always part of a selective tradition, someone’s selection, some group’s vision of legitimate knowledge. It is produced out of the cultural, political, and economic conflicts, tensions, and compromises that organise and disorganise a people”. In this article I will ‘unpack’ Apple’s quotation, showing that it emphasizes the social, cultural, and political processes that underlie any curriculum. I will discuss the political life of the curriculum in New Zealand, paying attention to historical and contemporary conflicts regarding its purpose, content, and structure.  Finally, I will address criticisms of Apple’s approach to curriculum theory.

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Filed under Criticism of theories, General, History of education

Hackschooling?

BY BRENT SILBY

The TEDx talk below by 13 year old Logan LaPlant is spreading around various sites dedicated to “unschooling”. It is being promoted as an argument for alternative approaches to education. I am impressed with the articulation and confidence this young person demonstrates. But does he make a rationally convincing argument?

When talking about writing, LaPlant claims that he was turned off because “my teachers used to make me write about butterflies and rainbows, but I wanted to write about skiing”. I wonder if he’s being entirely honest here. Every teacher I know encourages students to write about what they know. He might be referring to that imaginary classroom that often comes up in these sorts of presentations. This imaginary classroom constitutes part of an often used strawman argument that characterizes schools as authoritarian institutions in which children are strapped into their seats with teachers shoehorning information into their heads.
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Is Problem-Based Learning Superior to Direct Instruction?

BY BRENT SILBY

Alfie Kohn (2008) argues that techniques found in Progressive Education, such as problem-based learning, are superior to direct instruction. His argument is based upon research carried out primarily with children ranging from preschool to year 3 of primary (elementary) schooling.
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A Climate of Standards in NZ Education

BY NATHAN WOODS

Over the past 20 years, changes in New Zealand’s education environment have led to a ‘climate of standards’. Some people argue that standards can help to motivate students by fostering a ‘mastery’ orientation to learning, while others argue that standards  are demotivating because they encourage  a ‘credit accumulation’ mentality, and a narrowing of the curriculum.
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Rethinking Education – A Response to Sugata Mitra

BY BRENT SILBY

In his recent article “Advent of Google means we must rethink our approach to education”, Sugata Mitra argues that our education system needs to change. He suggests that the existence of modern technologies such as Google make the skills of the past obsolete. For Mitra, the only reason we continue to teach skills such as longhand multiplication is because we have some sort of romantic attachment to the past.

I worry that Mitra is downplaying the importance of the skills we teach in school. I’m also concerned that his views devalue knowledge. Mitra claims that:

“It took nature 100 million years to make the ape stand up and become Homo sapiens. It took us only 10,000 to make knowing obsolete” (Mitra 2013a)

In this series of posts I will break Mitra’s Guardian article down and offer a critical response to each of his points. Continue reading

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