Controlled vs Open-Ended Learning

by | Mar 12, 2015 | on Education | 0 comments

When I think about the old didactic pedagogy and the trends that are growing now, I see a lot of control in the old didactic pedagogy, and sometimes no control at all in some new trends. The whole idea, in my opinion, is to find some equilibrium between direction and freedom in education.

The problem with the old didactic pedagogy is that, whoever responsible for deciding what or what not to teach, usually thinks his or her opinion is the only best way to teach all the students. Besides that, no matter how creative and short the way from A to B they would suggest, there is no way to accept that it is the only best way, not to mention that nobody can actually decide those two points as a current level (A) and the desired level (B) for all students just the same. Taking the very personal opinion and subjective views and generalizing them to fit all kinds of students that come from as many backgrounds as there might be sounds very dictatorial to me. The greatest problem of the didactic method is using one textbook for all students, and what’s even worse, is to ask them to do the same thing with those textbooks.

The problem is to set standards for everything, to categorize people and knowledge because it is much easier to assess a person based on some pre-defined standards rather than take the time to learn about that person and guide them as coaches do to what they may decide to be the best course for their futures. However, it seems that the didactic approach comes as a result of the tyranny of the few, who decide what they want people to learn so that they can serve their businesses in the future like it was in the time of the industrial revolution. Everybody wanted to learn something that would enable them to do some work of any kind in a factory. Well, the factories have changed a little in our times, but they are still factories, more or less.

On the other side of the equation are the ones who just want to adopt all means of technology available without even thinking about the possible use of that technology, and whether it may help their learners or not. I will not focus on the ones who seek to adopt technology as a popular marketing technique to impress a certain class level of parents about the addition of the latest technology, which equals the importance of being the only school with an Olympic-sized pool in the area, in their opinion. I will talk about two other types that I see every day in my line of work as an educator:

The first are the ones that just use technologies that may drive the educational process out of control as technology is put first. For example, I remember, a while ago now, when my school bought interactive whiteboards; they requested that all teachers would make their lessons on PowerPoint, to use which, they gave us training. The administration was thrilled by the flashiest presentations that used the most transitions and animations available in the application. They wanted to see a return on investment as fast as possible that they took all the time in the world to learn every nook and cranny of PowerPoint to be able to discuss the missing features with us and ask us to add them to any presentation of any type. However, they did not spend any time thinking about the places where using PowerPoint would be useful and some other places where it would not. Besides that, the tools offered in PowerPoint dictated the educational presentation, rather than the educational goal took advantage of the many tools there were in PowerPoint, which should be the case with any other technological tool out there.

The other kind of technology adopters are the ones that use technological tools to do the same thing they have done all their lives. There is no vision, questions or any experiment of any kind about how to use these technologies to open up new possibilities in education that were difficult or unavailable in the past, or even take it a step forward, to where it should be, in my opinion, and make demands for technologies to be tailored and made to serve the growing needs of a different kind of education.

As a result, I see that in most cases the older entirely dictatorial didactic pedagogy, the new out-of-control embrace of technology, or making technology only a facade to the same old mentality that still does not believe in the right of every individual student to be whoever they choose to be, are all putting education more and more in the business category making all of our students just like every one of us is made today, just mere consumers.


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