First question: Have teachers become the creators of the "puzzle boxes" where we hold the key, the string tied to a door, in which if a student (the cat) pulls it, thus where they can escape our education--they have moved on to a new world, one in which they explore?
No, I did not read this article and think that this was touting behavioralism; I understand the the "new science of learning is its emphasis on learning with understanding" (4). But, what this article did do was challenge what we are (I am) doing in my classes. The researchers acknowledge that facts are important and are certainly key components of our textbooks and curriculum, but they insist that this "usable knowledge" does not emphasize understanding, but one of memory (4). They even further this notion discussing "experts' knowledge is connected and organized around important concepts (e.g. Newton's second law of motion) . . .it supports understanding and transfer (to other contexts) rather than only the ability to remember" (4).
Second question: how are we, as teachers of high school students, masters of our content, how are we creating meaning beyond just memory (strategies, tools, activities you've had success with, etc.)?
One piece this article discussed elicited a "Thank God!" response as I read it; the false idea that constructivist theories should never tell students anything directly, but let them construct knowledge for themselves was refuted soundly and truly, thrown out as only a way to confuse students. I remember my small group discussing this matter several times and wondering how constructivists handle questions that truly only have one right answer. I remember Brian saying in chemistry, that "could just be plain dangerous!" The writer of this chapter continues stating that in order for meaning to attach, students must combine their prior knowledge and beliefs with new information. How do we do this? Researchers claim that "people must learn to recognize when they understand and when they need more information" (6).
Third and final question (and no, you can't phone a friend): how are we teaching understanding to our students? How are we teaching strategies to access information? How do we help them understand someone else's meaning? And, more importantly, how do we help students build their own "theories of phenomena and test them effectively"? (6)