Re: Vigotsky, Rogoff, Kelly
23 May 1995 12:07:10 -0500

Thanks Hemant for bringing up two important issues, in you r
comments which included the following:
So, to
>apply a model of discovery oriented learning, customized to suit
>each preschool through middle school child, is not possible (at
>not within most of the public school systems I have seen).
>Thus, the kind of idiographic "scaffolding" that a constructivistic
>instructional program would need is difficult to manage in an era
>of outcome based, psychometrically and sociometrically defined

This is indeed an enormous challenge, although I am encouraged that
people are at least talking about constructivist approaches,
communities of learners, etc. Ann Brown's work particularly comes
to mind. The politics of schooling present a major difficulty, as
the powers that be place increasing emphasis on results of
standardized tests. The situation in Tennessee has reached absurd
proportions, as we've adopted value added assessment -- a taxation
model from manufacturing!!! Districts and individual schools which
fall below the mean gains statewide are put on probation, then risk
loss of funding, administrators' jobs, state take-over, etc. In
this climate, of course, there is tremendous pressure to "teach" to
the test.

>PCP, if taken seriously by the educatioal establishment would imply
>that we revamp our college courses thoroughly to include an overall
>metatheoretical emphasis in the syllabus, and also that we conduct
>in the
>school system, action-research projects of the interdisciplinary
>In short, to achieve a better educational system we should train
>not only to become well-versed in the research literature and in
>of instruction, but we must help the student teachers realize that
>they can be educational researchers themselves as well as expert
>guides in
>the childrens' growth and understanding of the world.
Again, I feel there are at least discussions, and some genuine
attempts to move in this direction. The problem is, beyond invoking
Shoen, there's little theoretical grounding for the "reflective
practitioner" model. This is where I feel PCP can really inform
teacher training. The coherence of a single theoretical perspective
that can be used as the basis for teachers' own as well as student
learning is really needed in this field. Furthermore, there is much
that educators can borrow from clinical and other applications of
PCP. For instance, when I looked at the teacher ed. literature
discussing resistance to using the formal theories we force-feed, I
turned to Fransella's work and asked, What experiments are the
teacher candidates performing? and Why do they persist in this way
of construing the world of teaching? I'm also finding the
experience cycle very useful in explaining why more field work (some
of my participants have as many as 300 hours prior to the student
teaching semester) doesn't necesarily mean more change in the
direction teacher educators wish. Frankly, I have to ask why
reasonable persons would abandon perfectly functional constructions,
which is what much of the literature says they ought to do (with
disdain for "belief systems" based in years of being a student.)
INstead, it seems we should closely examine the theoretical models
we present, and attempt to "scaffold" those which have real value
onto these beliefs. By respecting the Student Self as a legitimate
member of the community of selves during preservice training,
instead of an interloper, do we not have an opportunity to begin to
nurture sociality? Beyond other considerations, it seems one
fundamental distinction of constructivist education is mutual
sociality, in contrast with models which require students to
construe teacher's constructions alone. And, as Chris noted,
learning in the absence of sociality may be an accident.

**************** There's nothing as practical as a good theory...
and nothing as theoretical as good practice. ********************

Suzanne Huffman