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How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School
be incorporated into classroom practice, practicing teachers are a key audience. They are also a very busy audience. The challenge of developing ways to effectively communicate to those teachers is a central one. Research and development are recommended that distill the messages of this volume for teachers and develop examples that are relevant to the classroom context. These messages should be communicated in a variety of formats, including text, audiotapes, videotapes, CD-ROMS, and Internet-based resources.
Researchers should design and study the effectiveness of the different media in communicating key ideas, as well as the satisfaction of teachers with the various media and the change in practice that ensues. This research should focus on the format of the material as well. For example, case-like stories could be compared with more didactic methods often used in texts and lectures.
RESEARCH ON EDUCATION POLICY
This volume suggests far-reaching reform of education. It has direct implications for what is taught in the classroom, how it is taught, the relationship between students and teachers, the content and role of assessments, and the preparation of those who undertake the daunting task of classroom teaching. Yet it is not a blueprint for redesigning schools.
Policy makers involved in this study were interested in the critical components of change implied herein, as well as their associated costs. Given the task that is before them, this focus can be easily understood. But just as a doctor who recommends a healthy diet, stress reduction, exercise, adequate rest, and a personal support system cannot say which is most critical to health, researchers cannot identify the most critical change in the education system. The parts of the system cannot be isolated; the interactions among them have powerful influences on outcome.
And just as the exercise requirement has no single attached cost—it can be met by a run through the park or an indoor tennis game at a posh racket club—teaching for understanding has no obvious price tag attached. Eliciting and working with student ideas and preconceptions will be easier in a small class than in a larger one, just as exercise in a sports club will be easier in inclement weather. But with a diverse clientele, a doctor will do best to focus on the principle of raising the heart rate for a sustained period of time rather than dictate the method for achieving the goal. Similarly, the focus here is on the principles of teaching for understanding with the recognition that, in the diverse landscape of schooling, the manifestations of those principles will vary. This does not diminish what is known with certainty: teaching for understanding is a clear goal with several well-defined components (discussed in Chapter 1).