In one of my music education classes we discussed the difference between teaching non-verbally (example and imitation) , co-verbally (you talk to direct their attention to specifics), and descriptively (you talk and they do). The idea is that co-verbal is usually the best although this is becomes less and less effective on younger students. My question is what happened to the action part of learning in higher level classes? It seems to me that all to often the focus in the classroom is on explanation not on the actually hands on part of the learning. Just because I'm older, and can be more mature by sitting through long lectures doesn't mean that that is the way I learn the best...or does it?

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Good question. I notice that even as students go through elementary school, physical movement--physical "doing"--decreases substantially. Should that just be accepted as part of "growing up" or are we teachers cutting off significant avenues for involvement in learning by reducing the "physical" ? I think that neurologists have a lot say about this, as do educators involved in "brain research." Maybe CR2.0 people will have some good references that illustrate the importance of movement--
I think this is somewhat a critique of current teacher education. This is of course horribly generalized, but hey, we're among friends ;-)

From what I've seen, teachers are getting less education in "learning theory" (like what you describe) and it is being replaced by "teaching theory" (classroom management). I think it's a misguided attempt to get teachers "up and running" quickly with their classes, and then somehow, magically, good teaching will appear.

At the same time, we are cheaping out on student teaching, so that instead of long stretches of practice teaching side by side with a mentor teacher, student-teachers do short stints of a couple of weeks, often with little supervision. It's just not enough time to see the results of what you are doing and really experience the long-term cycle of how kids learn.

As a result of this (and I'm not even going to toss in AYP and testing pressure) new teachers are only experiencing the most basic teaching methodology, lecture. Lecturing is what teachers can do to show they are teaching. Teaching that is more facillitation is harder to see and harder to get the hang of.

it's interesting that you heard this in a music education class, I'm sure no musician or music teacher would ever say that lecture is the way to learn music. And yet, it's such a good example of the kind of learning we'd like to see in any subject, skills learned and practiced in the context of an authentic performance.



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