Creative Commons License

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Common Sense Blocks Learning

Poems must rhyme.
Good writers are born, not made.
Paintings must be photo realistic.
Acquired characteristics are inherited.
Heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones.
Thinking and writing are two separate things.
The difference between summer and winter is determined by the earth’s distance from the sun.

Wrong, such “common sense” understandings of the world often lead our students astray. Students use these misconceptions to understand ideas presented in our classes. All too often students retrofit new ideas with their original misconceptions. Students may even reject ideas they see as being contrary to their initial beliefs.

A keen example of retrofitting:

“The world is flat.” + “The world is round” = “The world is shaped like a pizza.”

These misconceptions don’t disappear by telling students they’re wrong. In fact these misconceptions represent existing neuronal networks; therefore, to change a misconception we literally have to change our students’ brains! To do this we have to start where they are, not where we are.

Comments on "Common Sense Blocks Learning"


post a comment