Investigation as Learning
Last night my wife and I sat down to watch some TV. The first time we have done so in weeks. We flipped to a channel that was showing Medical Investigation.
As I watched the episode where the Medical Investigation team was trying to find out what was causing kids in a small town to get sick, I found myself intrigued by the research skills the team was using, and even more intrigued with the questioning skills that the team used. Every time they found a piece of information it led to another question that would lead them down another trail. By gathering the information analyzing it, applying it to the other information they had, and then assessing the results the team slowly found the answer to the question Whats making these kids sick?
So I stared thing about the investigation tactics we use in the classroom. A couple things came to mind.
Hardly ever do we ask students to gather information, analyze it, apply it to the problem, and assess the outcome all in one step. Instead we tell kids to first, gather ALL the information you can about a topic, only after you have gathered ALL the information should you start to analyze it and see how it fits, only after you are done analyzing ALL of the information should you apply the information to your report, and then the teacher will assess how well you did.
How much information do students miss by not questioning the information they have when they are gathering it?
Another though just hit me, isnt this what video games do for kids? They dont read the manual on how a game works, they start pushing buttons (gathering information), figure out what each button does (analyze the results of the information they have gathered), and then try to play the game (apply the information) and see if the can win (assessment).
So students go home from school sit down and apply all of these skills at once, not independently of each other like we make them do all day in school. No wonder students are bored. We make them take each skill and learn it independently when each skill really needs the others to make a whole picture emerge, and they already know how to apply those skills together, we just need to train them to do it for the information we want them to gather.
Just thinking with my stick