How should we educate the children of tomorrow to solve the problems of today?
A new educational model is generating widespread interest and excitement among educators, parents, and community leaders. Known as "cognitive apprenticeship", the model draws upon contemporary cognitive and developmental science and specifies techniques for capitalizing on children's inborn ability to learn in complex natural settings. Sylvia Farnham-Diggory reports on a wide range of school programs that illustrate this innovative approach to schooling.
The new approach contrasts sharply with much current school practice, which is based on early twentieth-century theories of learning. These early theories, in misguided attempts to be "scientific", defined the acquisition of knowledge in terms of simple, quantifiable test behaviors. School practice derived from such outdated theory continues to revolve around fragmented lessons that can be easily counted and graded.
New research in cognition and human development shows that the acquisition of knowledge must be defined in terms of complex interactive networks. It cannot be acquired from workbooks or ditto sheets, nor can it be assessed through paper-and-pencil tests. Mastery of basic skills, a delight in history, literature, and science, and a creative approach to problem solving are best encouraged when children have opportunities to work alongside experts in meaningful and important contexts, thus participating in cognitive apprenticeships.
While never losing sight of her theoretical framework, Farnham-Diggory offers many practical suggestions for transforming classrooms into places of genuine intellectual growth. Schooling sets out a creative and realistic agenda for parents, teachers, school administrators, business leaders, and other concerned citizens who are looking for ways to replace traditional 1930s-style classrooms with rigorous and exciting educational environments.