Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Week 1 memo

Firstly in “Two New Sciences,” Galileo presented the changing beliefs and various approaches that people had in his time to the concept of uniform acceleration, through the three conversationalists, Simplicio, who tended to accept certain ideas just based on the fact that they seemed rational, Sagredo, who in the beginning tended to accept any knowledge that was easily achieved but began to see this folly as he progressed and Salviati, who sought out different scenarios in his observational, everyday life to prove a concept wrong before jumping to any conclusions.  Through collaborative approaches and socialization, they came to the same conclusion on a definition for uniform acceleration.
Secondly, the Lehrer article, “Designing to Develop Disciplinary Dispositions: Modeling Natural Systems,” focuses on the importance of epistemology as the goal of teaching as opposed to just memorizing facts.  Lehrer champions a specific type of teaching, modeling, because he claims it promotes the “social, cognitive, and material mechanisms” of knowing and helps develop students’ higher-level thinking skills.  He deems that through the use of primarily representational and physical models, students can make their own observations and teachers, along with the whole school community, can become “partners in the exploration of children’s modeling.”  Through this, the students can invent, investigate, and revise their own models, becoming primary explorers in their quests for discovery. 
Thirdly, Hazen recounts a history of the major scientific advancements and foundational theories of Newton and Galileo, among others.  He claims these scientists, through observing everyday simple events, began to develop theses “common sense” theories and systems, which in turn where tested and retested.  Hazen makes the keys distinction that Newton sought “incorporation rather than revolution” when discovering or coming to different conclusions, which he denoted a modern way of “knowing” and thinking about science.  

All three readings touch upon various ways of approaching and understanding science.  They all agree on students being active agents in the pursuit of this knowledge through both individual observations of normal, everyday events and the help and collaboration of the surrounding community for the beginning of that discovery, which in turn may take a long time to hone.  I saw these readings tie into Vygotsky and his idea of the zone of proximal development, which advocates and encourages higher level thinking and a child’s potential development, a concept that Lehrer termed as a student’s “emerging capabilities.”  Lehrer warns in his article that assumptions concerning a child’s developmental stage can lead to a “serious underestimation of children’s capabilities,” which I think is what standardized testing oftentimes does.  Instead of focusing on a child’s potential for development, standardized tests focus on the development that has already matured or been completed, which as a result may retard more productive development that was meant to maximize a child’s potential.  Thus, for me the Lehrer article seemed more applicable to my own life and goals for teaching, as I think it was meant too.  Finally, the Hazen article, while giving the reader a broad and simplistic view of the history of major concepts and how many build off each other, failed to show the difficulties and over simplified some aspects, which instead I believe were shown through the long collaborations and discussions that scientists and thinkers went through in the Galileo article.   

1 comment:

  1. In general (not just on standardized tests) when we assess students we tend to look for what students can do or know in that moment, not what they could do with scaffolding and support. These "emerging capabilities" are clearly important to consider, but I wonder if assessing these belong in summative assessment, whether teacher-made or standardized. If we do want to assess students based on what they could do, how could that practically be implemented in the classroom?


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