The video “A Private Universe” describes the teachers struggle with communicating new concepts to students as they hold on to their preconceived ideas and have difficulty creating new knowledge structures. Students discover new ideas form a multitude of places. “Everyday experiences, everyday communication, mass-media,and language,” (Driver, Guesne, Tiberghie, 1985). No other time in my teaching experience have I seen media such as Youtube dominate my students opinions on so many topics in Science and Math. Not only that but it guides the direction of knowledge and focuses their attention on singular topics. The area which I believe is becoming more prevalent as we move into the digital age is the power that mass media has on students preconceptions and knowledge base.
“Learners use their existing knowledge (i.e. their conceptual ecology), to determine whether different conditions are met,”(Hewson, 1992). They come into class with so much information fed to them through their personal media outlets that I find it is hard at times to draw their attention away from that focus to create a contradiction that will lead to an accommodation. For example, we are currently focusing on Mars and every student talks about the movie Martian and the 175km wind storms that they have to deal with. I told the students that really the atmosphere on Mars is only 1% as dense as Earth so winds of that magnitude would have little effect. To which my class responded, “Don’t ruin the movie!” It is a bit of a comical example but this Net Generation has their heads filled with “false facts” or “non facts” (useless information) through their digital repositories on a daily basis. This “intuitive or naive knowledge. Its primary characteristic is that it constitutes the person’s reality, something the person believes in,” (Fosnot, Catherine, 1994).) combats on a daily basis with the knowledge I am trying to imbue.
A second area of interest in childrens concepts is the preconceived idea that all technology is primarily for consumption. At the start of this year my grade 5’s felt as if the technology they were using does not work the way they want it to they could just give up or find a new piece of technology that would work. They had little understanding of what lay behind the technology they were using, how to manipulate it and how to create with it. All of the apps, computers, software and hardware has its base in Math and Science yet we give our students little understanding of what lies under the hood and how to tinker with it. This is why in my class we use Raspberry Pi’s daily in Science and Math to learn physical computing. To remove the prior conception, which is almost universal in my school, that computers are used to create knowledge not just entertain, word process and research. I believe we are facing an increasing amount of children with a large amount of knowledge given to them through technology and it is our job to help them culminate that knowledge in meaningful and productive ways.
Driver, R., Guesne, E., & Tiberghien, A. (1985). Children’s ideas and the learning of science. Children’s ideas in science, 1-9. Available online: search the title using any engine.
Fosnot, Catherine. Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. Teachers College Press, 2013 or 2005 version. Chapter 1: Introduction: Aspects of constructivism by Ernst von Glasersfeld or Chapter 2: Constructivism: A Psychological theory of learning or Cobb, Paul. “Where is the mind? Constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematical development.” Educational researcher 23, no. 7 (1994): 13-20. Available in the course readings library.
Hewson, P. W. Conceptual change in science teaching and teacher education. June 1992, National Center for Educational Research, Documentation, and Assessment, Madrid, Spain