Archive for the ‘constructivism’ Tag

Agency-Based Education   Leave a comment

Agency Based Education (ABE) is an important organization started by Oak Norton, the same man who is the webmaster for Utahns Against Common Core.

ABE holds yearly conferences attended by parents, teachers and legislators who want educational freedom.  (Agency here means free agency– not a government agency.)  It teaches the average person what should be widely known, but isn’t, about individual agency in education.

ABE’s site states:

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide an opportunity for the parents and children of the state of Utah to choose an Agency-Based Education.

Principles of an Agency-Based Education

  1. Must be based in choice and not compulsion
  2. Helps develop an internal moral compass as one fosters a recognition and love of truth
  3. Recognizes that truth best inspires when sought from original source materials
  4. Should be individualized to allow children to identify and develop their gifts and talents and discover their life’s missions
  5. Must recognize that parents have the sovereign stewardship to guide their children’s educational journey

Our Organization’s Purpose

This is an educational organization that teaches parents:

  • Their natural rights
  • Principles of a higher quality education
  • Current laws on education (Utah)
  • What is wrong with compulsory education and why we want change
  • What education options are currently available and what they could be in the future
  • How to get involved with us

 

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HELPING AGENCY BASED EDUCATION

ABE’s asking friends of the cause for help.   I am a friend of ABE and I signed up.  It cost me nothing and it helps ABE.  You can help, too.

Rather than holding a traditional fundraiser, ABE is asking people to simply sign up for a free account here, so that ABE can receive points (and money) from the retailers who have agreed to pay ABE for the referral.  For details on how it works, just click here.

For more information about why ABE’s educational mission is so important, click here.

Here’s a portion of and ABE article that defines the term “agency based education.”

 

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Defining “Agency-Based” Education

By Rebecca Bocchino

What is “agency-based” education as opposed to constructivism and behaviorism, and is there any scientific research supporting these methods?  Addressing these questions requires that we consider the various underlying assumptions of the nature of man, upon which are based the intellectual, moral, and cultural foundations for our differing views of the nature and purpose of education.  It might also help to put the issue of “scientific research”, with its emphasis on measurable, quantifiable, observable, and replicable behaviors, into a more Judeo-Christian perspective.

Behaviorism, as articulated by John Watson and B. F. Skinner, sees man as an object that is only capable of responding to external stimuli.  It claims that man acquired sense organs through evolution, not Divine design, and these sensory organs receive and transfer the environmental stimuli which then act upon the human “object”, causing a response.  Thus, choice and action are determined by the process of controlling and manipulating stimuli, which can be reduced to a science in a laboratory.

In his book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, B. F. Skinner dismisses any belief in the free will or agency of man, claiming instead that

man does not act upon the world, the world acts upon him. … Freedom and dignity…are the possessions of the autonomous man of traditional theory, and they are essential to practices in which a person is held responsible for his conduct and given credit for his achievements.  A SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS [BEHAVIORISM] SHIFTS BOTH THE RESPONSIBILITY AND THE ACHIEVEMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT. (emphasis added)

It is upon this humanist moral foundation that behavioral methods using operant conditioning are based.

Constructivism or progressivism takes the concept of free will to the other extreme by operating on the assumption that man is not only a “self”, but that he possesses within himself all the wisdom and individual determination needed to progress.  InSummerhill, the British educator A. S. Neill counters the behaviorist assumption by suggesting that…

we should allow children to be themselves…renounce all discipline, all direction, all suggestion, all moral training, all religious instruction…a child is innately wise and realistic.  If left to himself, he will develop as far as he is capable of developing.

From this extreme springs methods such as “whole language” and “fuzzy math”.

Many are united in their rejection of constructivism and progressivism as one extreme, but controversy still exists between the humanist underpinnings of behaviorism and the Judeo-Christian belief in redemption and the nature of man.  Differences arise in how we define the capacity and nature of man:  whether he is a moral agent accountable to a higher, divine law, or a non-redemptive organism to be manipulated, controlled, shaped, and used by an external environment….

Read the rest here.

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Math Teacher Stephanie Sawyer on Common Core Standards   8 comments

Math Teacher Stephanie Sawyer

speaks out about the weak math in Common Core Standards.

Math Teacher Stephanie Sawyer was quoted on Diane Ravitch’s website saying the following about Common Core:

“…They pay lip service to actually practicing standard algorithms.

Seriously, students don’t have to be fluent in addition and subtraction with the standard algorithms until 4th grade?

I teach high school math. I took a break to work in the private sector from 2002 to 2009. Since my return, I have been stunned by my students’ lack of basic skills. How can I teach algebra 2 students about rational expressions when they can’t even deal with fractions with numbers?

Please don’t tell me this is a result of the rote learning that goes on in grade- and middle-school math classes, because I’m pretty sure that’s not what is happening at all. If that were true, I would have a room full of students who could divide fractions. But for some reason, most of them can’t, and don’t even know where to start.

I find it fascinating that students who have been looking at fractions from 3rd grade through 8th grade still can’t actually do anything with them. Yet I can ask adults over 35 how to add fractions and most can tell me. And do it. And I’m fairly certain they get the concept. There is something to be said for “traditional” methods and curriculum when looked at from this perspective.

Grade schools have been using Everyday Math and other incarnations for a good 5 to 10 years now, even more in some parts of the country. These are kids who have been taught the concept way before the algorithm, which is basically what the Common Core seems to promote. I have a 4th grade son who attends a school using Everyday Math. Luckily, he’s sharp enough to overcome the deficits inherent in the program. When asked to convert 568 inches to feet, he told me he needed to divide by 12, since he had to split the 568 into groups of 12. Yippee. He gets the concept. So I said to him, well, do it already! He explained that he couldn’t, since he only knew up to 12 times 12. But he did, after 7 agonizing minutes of developing his own iterated-subtraction-while-tallying system, tell me that 568 inches was 47 feet, 4 inches. Well, he got it right. But to be honest, I was mad; he could’ve done in a minute what ended up taking 7. And he already got the concept, since he knew he had to divide; he just needed to know how to actually do it. From my reading of the common core, that’s a great story. I can’t say I feel the same.

If Everyday Math and similar programs are what is in store for implementing the common core standards for math, then I think we will continue to see an increase in remedial math instruction in high schools and colleges. Or at least an increase in the clientele of the private tutoring centers, which do teach basic math skills.”

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