Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"What if they come at you with a pointed stick?"

Brain Camborne has spent his career researching learning in natural settings in an effort to "find an educationally relevant theory of learning." This research led to Camborne identifying eight conditions present to support learning. The figure below comes from his book, The Whole Story, and shows how he envisions the conditions working together in a language arts classroom.

Engagement is central to these conditions; "the necessity for engagement underlies the whole plan, guiding and influencing all of the teacher's actions and interactions with the learners." Camborne found that three factors impacted learners' level of engagement (see figure to the right). 

In watching this Monty Python sketch, I was reminded of these factors and how they are too often ignored during instruction. [Sometimes it takes the extreme to become aware of the obvious.]

Why did only four cadets show up for the self-defense class? What might they expect from past lessons? Did they not show up because they felt they did not have the resources (guns, 16-ton weights, or tigers) needed to be successful? Were they uninterested in learning how to defend against assailants wielding fruit (instead of pointed sticks)? Or did they feel unsafe (and rightly so)?

More importantly, how do we unsure that our lessons address potential, purpose, and protection?

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