Friday, October 27, 2006

"Schools as Knowledge Building Organizations"

Scardamalia has noted that educators tend to think students need to know all the facts and findings of a discipline before they can start building knowledge in that field. So, for example, first students must know what atoms are, what protons and electrons are, must know about the distribution of charges and how things attract and repel, what a metallic bond is versus a covalent bond, must be told all of these facts, before they can begin to build knowledge about, say, conductors and insulators. Taking issue with this, she notes:
"...What makes work 'scientific' is a matter of continuing controversy and is not a matter to be settled here; but we may at least agree that science is a form of social practice that goes on, with wide variations, in groups recognized as scientific...We see school-age students as ... having about 500 years of science to catch up on... They can begin functioning as real scientists as soon as they are able to engage in a form of social practice that is authentically scientific, one that is concerned with the solution of recognizably scientific problems in recognizably scientific ways."

from Scardamlia, M. and Bereiter, C. (1999). In D. Keating and C. Hertzman (Eds.), Today's Children, tomorrow's society: The developmental health and wealth of nations. New York: Guilford.

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