Tag Archives: play-based learning

Who Poses the Questions in Teaching?

In Ontario at present, “inquiry learning” or “problem-based learning” (including “play-based learning”) is widely advocated. However, while many proponents of the approach maintain that all the questions guiding inquiry should come from the students, I (Clive) beg to differ. Although generally in agreement with the approach, I think a balance is needed: teachers should pose questions too.

For example, the students in the course Reflective Professional Development I am teaching this term seem to love the questions we are pursuing; e.g., how much do teachers learn informally, how can informal learning be enhanced, how can formal PD be more effective? I don’t have to push the students at all – in small groups, whole-class discussion, and individual writing they go to work on the questions in quite a refreshing way. However, many of the questions we discuss came from me: they are inherent in the structure of the course and the readings I recommend.

So there has to be a balance. The classroom should be a setting for co-learning or “co-constructivist” learning. Teachers should suggest many of the questions, but also do the following:

  • Let a question go if there is no “uptake” from the students
  • Respect the additional questions and sub-questions students raise
  • Allow the students a lot of air-time so they can identify questions and express their views about them
  • Encourage the students to pursue their own questions in their assignments

Over time, with this approach, we will get a better sense of which questions are interesting and fruitful, and which ones we should pose next time we teach the course, while again looking for new questions from the students.

Questioning the Benefits of Toddlers’ Digital Technology Use

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine suggest toddlers’ overuse of mobile digital technologies could hinder their social-emotional development. While the researchers recognize “that educational apps on smartphones and tablets may facilitate some academic skills for children” they voice concern that the extended use of such technologies by toddlers could displace valuable play-based interactions. The researchers point out that “toddlers younger than two years are known to learn best via hands-on exploration of their physical world.” Their commentary published in the journal of Pediatrics reviews  existing literature, examines future research directions, and suggests preliminary guidelines for families. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Link to CBC article: http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/topstories/toddlers-overusing-mobile-tech-may-stunt-development-1.2940848