WEEK 2         Class Summary    Reflections  

Class Summary

This week, we explored the ideas that Gardner's views are based upon a theory of how culture develops (through the inventions and advances of the disciplines) and how individuals learn and develop within that culture (by taking advantage of initial constraints, overcoming misconceptions and then developing the capacities to use the methods and conventions of the disciplines) and a view of what an educated person is (someone capable of using the methods and understanding the issues of important disciplines) and the role of education in society (to preserve and advance culture).

Some of the lingering questions for a Teaching for Understanding approach we generated: :

What other factors (besides meaningful questions) contribute to student success?

How does a TFU approach address students at different developmental levels? Is this appropriate for elementary students?

Is this approach as applicable to math as other disciplines?

Does "less is more" actually turn out to be too little?

How can students develop the necessary background knowledge/basic skills in this approach?

How do we dove-tail TFU with standardized tests etc.?

What assessments/criteria can we use to judge whether this aproach works?

How can teachers actually do TFU?

Who has the right to determine what is taught in school? Whose interpretations are valued?

Who decides what "counts" as a discipline? And who decides which ones (and which topics within them) to study?

Did the exceptional individuals Gardner discusses learn this way?

What criteria can we use to judge whether these theories of development are "true"?


Overall, I thought people were a little dissatisfied that Gardner hadn't provided them with more ammunition to support a TFU position. But In the end, I'm not sure whether anyone understands Gardner more deeply than they did before (and I'm not sure they could explain them to someone else). It's difficult to get beyond either liking it because it fits with their views or having problems with it because it is impractical. But I get the feeling that people may at least have heard something that may make them think differently about the ideas.

This excerpt from my reflections, as well as the others made public in this site, provide my overall assessment of the discussion for the week. Full reflections remain unpublished, but include notes on individual contributions to the discussions, questions for me to consider for the future, and other notes.

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c. 2000, Thomas Hatch, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  All the material contained on this site has been produced by Thomas Hatch or other authors as noted. These materials can be downloaded, printed, and used with proper acknowledgement, including the name and affiliation of the author and the web-site address.