When children are simply taught

studies have found that when children are simply taught, they don’t explore and test multiple hypotheses

[In one study of preschoolers,] an experimenter held a toy that had four tubes. Each tube did something different — for instance, one lit up and one made a squeaking sound.

In one case, the experimenter accidentally made the toy squeak by bumping into it and then left the room. The children experimented with the toy and figured out the three other features.

But when the experimenter made the toy squeak on purpose and then handed it to a child, he or she simply repeated what the experimenter did and never explored the toy’s other features.

via http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/science/scientific-inquiry-among-the-preschool-set.html

3 Responses to “When children are simply taught”

  1. That doesn’t only apply to pre-schoolers. I show my Physics students how the equipment works, but they have to come up with their own procedures to perform the labs. Sometimes that leads to having to re-run the experiment (and have them figure out why their procedure didn’t work) and but often they come up with more types of experiments than I would have assigned, and having different groups using different methods gives the opportunity to compare and contrast, and evaluate which methods they think are better or worse. It’s unfortunate that by the time they are in High School, the students feel “caught” when they are goofing around observing what happens, and I have to encourage them to try silly or unusual ideas and see what happens.

  2. Everyone wants their students to buy-in. Here’s how: Present them an interesting problem, some tools, some basic guidance, and then let them run with it!

    I think this post is dead on: If you EXPLAIN everything, then there is nothing left to LEARN. This also prepares students for how they will learn the rest of their lives post school.

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