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Getting there


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Transcript of comments by Lee S. Shulman, President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching from The Learning Classroom Theory into Practice Session 11. Lessons for Life-Learning and Transfer from Annenberg CPB http://www.learner.org/index.html

"And therefore, the challenge of education is always to ask, "What's the least amount of material we can teach really well that will, in turn, make it possible for those whom we teach to use that knowledge in the widest possible range of situations – including not only situations that we can anticipate but also situations that no one can anticipate." That's why my course seems to be getting so dense, trying to get the students to think about and use Economic concepts, gain presentation skills and people skills all in one go!

And so as educators, we often ask ourselves, "What are those simpler skills that, again and again turn out to be useful in more complex, later things, we want students to learn. Let's make sure we teach those simpler skills very, very well so that when they confront the more complex skills, they can put together what they already know." Is this ever what I am trying to do as I build up the different aspects of presentation?

A second kind of transfer occurs when you have to take what you've learned in one situation and apply it to a new situation at roughly the same level of complexity I don't think this has ever been modelled to students, judging by the paucity of economic concepts students came up with in brainstorming about The Economist articles....

"What is it about what I'm teaching now that will be of value, of use, a source of understanding, or of pleasure to my students at some point in the future, when they're in a situation that is not identical to the one they're in now?" This to me is the ultimate, kind of sums up my policy of teaching as it were, in particular the bit about "a source of understanding, or of pleasure", because in all things the present is where it's at, time past and time future condensed into one small moment of understanding or pleasure, and preferably both, the joy of learning.