ED 200 Week Two Part 1 (Fall 2022)*

Week Two

We began by dropping in on an event that revealed something about our schooling environments. That was the three branches of government story.

We asked ourselves what does this mean? What gave this event, this scenario in which a third-grade child memorized the three branches of government, meaning? If context confers meaning, what was the context that gave this event meaning?

Context Confers Meaning

We know that context confers meaning. In other words, we know that the three branches of government event was clearly meaningful for someone–teacher, child, parent, and administrator. The school context made the event meaningful. Let me emphasize ‘school’ context. This event would not have been meaningful, in the same way, in any other context.

On day two, we probed into the context that made the memorization of the three branches of government come to being. We probed into the context that made this event intelligible. We noticed a number of things that would give this event meaning. We discussed such things as preparing for a test, being graded, learning and forgetting, etc.

In an attempt to bring some structure to our inquiry, we had a look at Aristotle’s discussion of the four causes.

Using Aristotle’s four causes we brought some structure or organization to how we might reflect on something.

If you recall, Aristotle talked about four causes: the efficient, the formal, the material, the final.

We talked about why a third-grade child would memorize the branches of government. We thought that it was for the sake of passing a test. This we deemed to be the purpose (Aristotle’s Final Cause), or the ‘for-the-sake-of . . .”

We had a sense of the form (Aristotle’s Formal Cause) that gave structure to the event: there were procedures that were followed in class to help the students memorize. In addition, there was a test that followed, on Wednesday, so that procedure involved the process of memorizing and then testing.

We also considered the material cause: in our case the material consisted of the content, the tests, and we could extend that out to the school.

If we take Aristotle’s efficient cause into consideration, the being responsible for creating the event, we could say the teacher would be the efficient cause. We accepted the efficient cause to be “the person”.

So, we adopted an initial structure of purpose, person, material, and form. A simple four-modality structure.

Let us modernize this frame to include pragmatic perspectives as well as more up-to-date studies from neuroscience. Let us create a Five-Modality Frame.

The Five Modality Frame

Let our frame include five modalities:

First: a for-the-sake-of-which, in-order-to, purpose.

Second: A form. This could be a structure, a design, either physical, procedural, or imaginary.

Third: Materials. Our materials could be physical, or non-physical. These materials would contribute to the structures that make up the design.

Fourth: Bodily experience. Every event is experienced by someone. That someone has a physical/bodily experience that contributes to the meaning of the experience or event.

Fifth: Situations: In what situations would this event contribute to current or future use or possibility?

Before we use our Five-Modality Frame, let me share with you some simple everyday examples that you will be very familiar with. This will help you become familiar with the way this modality frame might structure our thinking.

Here is the powerpoint that I shared with you in class. ED 200 Modality Frame

 

Now, let’s see what we can find about this three branches of government event in terms of the context when organized into a structure involving five modalities. Let us attempt to reveal beliefs and assumptions that contribute to the context and thus to how one might experience the school event.

***** Note: As you notice in class, I will throw a lot of contextual elements at you here. Even though it seems like a lot, hopefully you will sense the vast number of contextual elements and assumptions that are taking place in the background at any given time in any given school situation.

Not to fear — next class I will begin to examine each of these elements in much greater detail.

 

You organized these in class. Here is a quick organization of my own.

Contextual Modality Frame

Purpose: For the sake of . . . . In order to . . . .

For the sake of passing the test.

Form: the shape, the procedures, the design, the method.

The external authorities should determine what should be learned.

That learning is an intellectual activity.

Test driven.

The concern by the teacher and administrators for high scores.

A fear that the low scores shared or published would reveal deficiencies in programs and teacher ability.

Threats.

Time constraints. Time is a concern.

Efficiency is pursued and expected. There is not enough time to understand.

Outside-in. A belief that learning is cognitive, that we take specific forms, and statements, and put them, get them, into the heads of students.

Knowledge that this claims specific knowledge has a function Learning happens at irregular intervals. Not continual period is periodic, at discrete times.

Content is disconnected, compartmentalized.

Curriculum is designed to be broken up into different domains.

There is a range or scope and sequence.

That we can determine what someone will learn.

That we can determine who is capable of learning.

That learning is difficult and takes a great deal of effort.

That some students don’t put in enough effort to succeed.

That learning styles help learning.

That mnemonics of all sorts (songs, acronyms) are valuable in the pedagogical techniques.

That we can measure what has been learned.

That reteaching by repetition will help students.

That students should be segregated from other students, students of other ages, and other helpful adults.

That teachers are to blame if the test scores are not high enough.

That content to be learned is context independent and can be determined and designed by external authorities who do not know the specific individuals, classroom, school, community context.

That time spent on repetitive exercises and drills, while frustrating and difficult, is necessary.

That children, students, should not have choice in what they learn or to pursue their own interests.

That schools can and should control students.

That our methods are scientifically derived.

That a lesson can and should be aligned to goals and objectives.

Materials:

The external authorities should determine what should is learned.

A test that was designed to elicit memorize responses.

The concern by the teacher and administrators for high scores.

A fear that the low scores shared published would reveal deficiencies, in programs, and teacher ability.

Threats.

Time constraints.

That learning is an intellectual activity.

Knowledge that this claims specific knowledge has a function Learning happens at irregular intervals. Not continual period is periodic, at discrete times.

Content is disconnected, compartmentalized.

Curriculum is designed to be broken up into different domains.

There is a range or scope.

That disconnected knowledge is valuable what one learns is obvious. That what should be learned, and what is learned, can be perceived by student and teacher.

Grading, ranking.

Some students are naturally intelligent, capable, while others are not.

That we can determine what someone will learn.

That we can determine who is capable of learning.

That rewards are an acceptable motivator and will lead to better learning.

That testing helps assure learning.

That assessment will tell us what students don’t know.

Curriculum. That all students, state wide, should learn the same thing.

That content to be learned is context independent and can be determined and designed by external authorities who do not know the specific individuals, classroom, school, community context.

That adult knowledge is valuable.

That scores and grades are important.

That schools can and should control students.

That background experience doesn’t matter.

That our methods are scientifically derived.

That a lesson can and should be aligned to goals and objectives.

Bodily experience:

The concern by the teacher and administrators for high scores.

A fear that the low scores shared published would reveal deficiencies, in programs, and teacher ability.

Threats.

Situations: potential, previously experienced, possible, generalizable.

Time constraints.

That learning is an intellectual activity.

That disconnected knowledge is valuable what one learns is obvious.

That which should be learned, and what is learned is obvious and can be perceived by student and teacher.

Bodily experiences are not necessary. Things can be learned without previous experience.

Compliance is necessary. Threatened by grades.

Some students are naturally intelligent, capable, while others are not.

That poor home life is often to blame when students fail.

That learning is difficult and takes a great deal of effort.

That some students don’t put in enough effort to succeed.

That what is learned is easily forgotten. We resist acknowledging the forgetting curve.

That it is the student’s fault if they don’t learn.

That content to be learned is context independent and can be determined and designed by external authorities who do not know the specific individuals, classroom, school, community context.

That it is acceptable to stress students and teachers.

That scores and grades are important.

That learning is not enjoyable.

That schools can and should control students.

That background experience doesn’t matter.

Slight changes to the modality frame can change how we go about learning and how we go about teaching.

I made a slight change to the demonstration of learning and it changes the form, bodily experience, methods, and materials.

Change from ‘retaining’ to understanding. We don’t learn using a replicative method. We try to understand the context.

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If you are having difficulty deciding what you might put in your art book, you might consider examining a couple of school-based objects or processes using the Five Modality Frame structure.