30 June 2009

Critical Developmental Periods of Learning

In this very short video, John Abbott discusses the importance of matching the critical learning windows of development to methods of interacting and teaching -- from infancy to adolescence and beyond.

Perhaps the greatest problem with modern affluent societies is their failure to meet the challenge presented by the adolescent developmental period. This failure is manifested by permanently stunted half-adults who never grow beyond quasi-adolescent fads, fashions, and in-group dependencies.

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Blogger read it said...

Reminds me of Epstein's The Case Against Adolescence. He notes that stages of mental development are not the same for all individuals but also that people who do not develop to a certain level cognitively by about 16 never will. Obviously you can't learn all you need to know by 16. His point was more about a certain type of reasoning. It is therefore important to help students develop as quickly as possible, not necessarily to mastery level of objectives but at least exposure and practice with more abstract reasoning. The idea of waiting till the student is ready is fallacious. Slow learners need more experiences in order to master concepts and develop. One could argue for accelerating (not just enriching) instruction to allow time for the necessary repetition before the window is closed. Razib at gnxp.com noted that Pygmies stop growing at an earlier age. Perhaps late maturation is an advantage because there is more time for mental exercise before the window closes. I am not saying you can make slow individuals bright, just that you can maximize their function. That is help them make the most of what they have. Likewise accelerating the curriculum could help the strong as well. It sure could save money if students could graduate after tenth grade rather than after 12th. That would reduce the number of teachers by 15% and by extension their salaries, health care and pensions which are paid from state budgets. But I digress.

Review of Epstein's book at Taki's Mag:

Friday, 03 July, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Right. There is incredible room for improvement in all stages of education. But even perfect education will not narrow achievement gaps between the slow and the fast. It will likely make them even wider.

If narrowing achievement gaps is your goal, you need to go deeper than mere education to alter how brains function.

And you have to offer the enhancements to the slow, but withhold them from the quick. That isn't going to happen.

Ergo, achievement gaps are with us always, like the poor.

Saturday, 04 July, 2009  

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