The educational value of creative disobedience
Via the excellent math for love blog I learned about an article written in the Scientific American magazine called The educational value of creative disobedience. The article is a powerful argument against traditional ‘chalk and talk’, direct-instruction teaching methods which it says have been scientifically demonstrated to be less effective than creative, problem solving teaching styles. It argues that traditional teaching methods stifle creativity, problem solving skills and encourage pupils to think there is only one way to solve a problem. Furthermore, the author goes on to despair about the fact that while much of this valuable scientific research demonstrates we should be applying some creative, problem solving approaches to teaching our subjects, ‘the system’ refuses to adopt them.
The article begins with Jean Piaget‘s famous quote:
“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers” –Jean Piaget
Despite the sexism, this is surely as relevant today as it was when Piaget said it. If so, shouldn’t our teaching styles encourage this? Don’t direct-instructional methods ‘hard-wire’ our kids into “repeating what other generations have done”?
I follow the discussion of the educational community through blogs and I sense a growing tide of divergence from direct-instructional teaching methods. Perhaps the most well known proponent of this movement within the blogging community is Dan Meyer who confronts ‘the coal face’ through his blog dy/dan, giving specific examples of how to put these ideas into practice. Dan’s blog is a great read as it tells the whole story of his experimentation in this field including all the early frustrations and failures. Dan was even invited by the prestigious, exclusive TED organisation to talk about his philosophy:
The educational value of creative disobedience is a very interesting read that hits the perfect harmony between personal anecdote and cold, scientific facts on this important topic and I highly recommend it to you.