Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the vicious cycle in classroom learning

The following is something I have described before in the blog, but the book Disrupting Class, How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Christensen, Horn and Johnson, puts it rather well, and from a position of presumed greater authority (there are three of them), as they describe "a vicious cycle:"
...the subject material in a high school language arts class relates in obvious ways to linguistic intelligence. Students with that intelligence type naturally comprise most of the ones who excel in language arts. They're the ones who choose to major in that subject in college and then choose teaching careers in that field. Specific subject matter tends to be linked to specific intelligences through the way textbooks are written--by experts strong in that specific intelligence type. As a result, what has emerged in every domain are "intellectual cliques," composed of curriculum developers, teachers, and the best students in that subject area. Their brains are all wired consistently with each other. Just as members of a social clique often are unaware of the degree to which they easily understand and communicate with each other to the exclusion of those outside the group, members of these intellectual cliques are often unaware of the extent to which their shared patterns of thinking exclude those with strengths in other kinds of intelligences.
The authors suggest that the same patterns repeat themselves generation after generation with teachers only being effective with those students who match their own learning styles. The result is that some may have the impression that they alone are smart. The evidence, at least to them is clear. And so I have mentioned before that given the complete disregard for the hands by those who have no knowledge of the intelligent use of the hands, we are called to create an affirmative action program for the hands through which all students have the opportunity to learn more about themselves and each other. What we have now in schools is a structural pattern that exists from primary education through grad school, and because it is a self-replicating, self-sustaining structure, it will be difficult to overcome. Work on it with me. Cook, make, sew, plant, harvest, create, fix, nurture, care, and when you run into idiots, don't be shy about the display of your own intelligence.


  1. Anonymous6:10 AM

    In my study skills class, I let students know that they can do well even when the teacher's style is not what they feel comfortable with. But life sure is easier when the two styles match.


  2. In colleges, young teachers to be are given instruction multiple intelligences, but little or no practice outside their natural type. It is hardest to teach multiple intelligences at the highest levels, but not to worry... most of the hands-on learners are weeded out before they get to college.