What do you get from a nice story on self-controlled learning? A smile and some myths.

There is a Wired-article doing the round on the class of Juárez Correa that brings a warm smile to many faces. In the article there are also a lot of scientific mentions included to explain that self-controlled learning is much better than instruction. Well, it isn’t, or at least it isn’t always. My smile froze reading this.

One element in the article has been mentioned on this blog already a couple of times, it’s the hole in the wall-experiments by Sugata Mitra.

Do I dismiss the story, no, I don’t. But there are some other elements:

  • some of the ideas are mentioned as new or even futuristic, but are in fact very old (think Rousseau, Montesorri,…). This doesn’t mean they are bad, still the debates has been going on for a very long, long time.
  • the theory of Piaget, although still interesting and relevant in focussing on the concrete, has become less important for quite a while in cognitive psychology.
  • this isn’t an example of experimental research, but this is a case study. Although case studies are also relevant and can be great science, using them to make the argument that this is the future of education, that’s a very long shot.

Also included in the article is professor Peter Gray who is an adept of the principles of the Sudburry schools. He writes eloquently on the topic and is very much involved since many years, but if you examine the research on democratic schools, the researchers note themselves that independent research is lacking.

There are people who argue that the whole idea of self controlled learning is an urban myth, actually, this scientific article by Paul Kirschner has some good arguments, but I wouldn’t want to go that far. What I do think that self controlled learning can be a part of education, not replacing instruction.

One thought on “What do you get from a nice story on self-controlled learning? A smile and some myths.

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