ED 200 Final Review (Winter 2020)

Week One

I began our class suggesting to you that it is important that we know the difference between schooling and education. Why was that?

There are, of course, many reasons. Let me mention a few:

a) schooling is what happens in schools. Presumably we want students to become educated in schools, but that is not always the case.

b) students can go to school and never become educated.

c) people can become very well educated having never gone to school.

d) sometimes people believe that they can go to school and they will become educated but that is often not the result.


Perhaps we should define education and schooling.

a) we talked about Professor Barrow’s definition of education as having a depth and breadth of understanding. What does it mean to have an understanding? Professor Barrow refers to understanding as “knowing the reasons why.” And while this is only a small piece of his definition of understanding, this is probably sufficient for us to work with when we are comparing education and schooling.

b) schooling often encompasses many activities that might appear to have educational consequences but in careful analysis it falls short. All the activities, the tests, the programmatic instruction, the disciplinary procedures are not educational if they do not lead to a depth and breadth of understanding.


Do we have any examples where it might appear that a youngster is becoming educated but in fact is simply being schooled?

a) the three branches of government story.

b) the learning and forgetting curve.

c) we have a large number of students who are unable to define basic math and science words.

We can argue that without vocabulary we are unable to think or talk about the ideas within a particular domain. For example, if I don’t know what the words on the news mean, I am at a loss for what is being discussed. If I don’t know the labels for soccer activities, I would be unable to talk about a soccer event. If I don’t know the vocabulary regarding science, the environment and sustainability I would be unable to contribute to the conversation in any meaningful way.

We agree that understanding is not only important, but it is necessary when we are thinking about schools, teaching and learning. So we have to place a good deal of emphasis on not only understanding ‘understanding’, but also knowing how to help students understand.


Is there any research that points to success in understanding?

Yes, there is ample evidence that Vocabulary and reading is very helpful in the pursuit of understanding.

a) The Early Catastrophe

The vocabulary experience children have has an impact on their future academic success.

In the article, what did the researchers find?

They found that the more access children had to vocabulary, and their resulting vocabulary proficiency in the children’s early years, was correlated to the child’s academic success. While intervention is important, that vocabulary intervention is unlikely to meet the positive effects of “high-vocabulary” family environments.

The researchers provided graphs of the estimated cumulative word acquisition rate between Welfare, Working-class, and Professional Families.

We replicated those graphs when we developed our first spreadsheet assignment.

Those who have more, get more.

Willingham, in Chapter Two, created a similar graph on page 44 to show: “When it comes to knowledge, the rich get richer.”


b) Our word game: what do you remember?

We found that when we do not know words from sentences, we either don’t remember what was said, or we don’t understand what was being said.

Recall: Those who have more, get more.

Willingham, in Chapter Two, created a similar graph on page 44 to show: “When it comes to knowledge, the rich get richer.”


Thus, memory is also something to be considered. We could argue that one cannot become educated without memory. We also ask the question: How do we ensure we are creating memories?

a) One needs to perceive something to have a memory of it.

b) One needs to attend to something (pay attention) to make a memory.

c) One needs to have access to the memory to have that memory.

In Week Two we spend some time considering what we can do to ensure we are perceiving something.

a) We talked about the importance of attending. In order to make memories we should resist the temptation to “switch task.” In other words we have to pay attention. We know that we can’t be multi-tasking or switch tasking if we are trying to attend to something. Our brain does not take in more than one thing at a time. We pay attention to one thing or the other.

b) We talked about the importance of ensuring we understand what we are learning. We learned about the Feynman Method. What is the Feynman Method? Why does it work?

c) We considered ways to study.

d) We considered the importance of sleep.

e) We considered early experiences.

So we ask: how does someone perceive something so that they can them make a memory?

a) we perceive something when neuronal cell assemblies fire thus re-firing previous experience.

A cat that does not have experiences with horizontal lines when it is in its infancy will not suddenly see horizontal lines when exposed to them. Why? Experience with horizontal edges wires neurons together so that assemblies are created.


Colin Blakemore’s Kitten Experiment


Reading Comprehension Through Vocabulary


Vocabulary is important. But just because I know words doesn’t mean I have woven together the neuronal cell assemblies to be familiar with context.


You probably know what an assembly is. Over the years you have probably attended many student assemblies.


We refer to this as a student assembly because it is an assembly of students. Students have assembled (or gathered together) in one place for a common purpose.














































Cells can gather together in our body. We could call these cell assemblies.

Neurons are cells. Neurons can gather together (or assemble). We can call these Neuronal Cell Assemblies.


Neuronal Cell Assemblies

In Week Two Session Two we looked a bit more closely at neurons. We saw neurons connecting (or at least getting close enough to pass chemicals through synaptic gaps). This allowed us to see an example of ‘learning’ in the brain. Learning is this long-term physical change.

How might we talk about understanding as a result of neuronal connections?





Neural network. Computer illustration of a broken brains neural network represented by lines and dots. Some aereas are not connected, depicting dementia and Alzheimers disease.


Mirror Neurons

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In Week Three Session One you watched TEACH. Let’s connect an important question that I asked you in your response questions to what we know about understanding, and neurons:

The question: Good teaching takes more than passion. It also takes content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. (please look up pedagogical if you are uncertain what it means). Why is content and pedagogical knowledge so important?

How can you speak to this question in terms of the development of neuronal cell assemblies?


In Week Three Session Two we looked a bit more deeply into curriculum. We saw the way people talk about curriculum, and we saw the way teachers develop environments that result in different curricular approaches. During this session we looked specifically at Problem-Based Curriculum.

What is Problem-Based Curriculum? In terms of what we know about neuronal cell assemblies, how can we explain the way Problem-Based Curriculum might help the development of neuronal cell assemblies?