Today's newsletter is delayed a bit because I could not tear myself away from this wonderfully detailed set of instructions on how to make cheese. Makes me just want to go out and get myself some rennet. You'd probably have to practice a bit to really learn how to make cheese, but these instructions really look like all you'd need to get going. It's also important to have previously seen and tasted cheese, so you know what success looks like. (emphasis added)
At least when it comes to novice cheesemakers learning how to make cheese.
But apparently not for learning academic content which seems to require a more constructivist approach, according to Stephen.
Wouldn't the budding cheesemaker learn more from being handed all the necessary cheesemaking ingredients and provided the wonderfully engaging opportunity of floundering around making cheese on their own with some minimal guidance provided by the instructor.
I guess not. It doesn't work for chick-sexing apprentices? Why should it work for novice cheesemakers?
And for that matter why should it work for novice students of algebra?
Here's the analog in the algebra world. Behold Algebra: Structure and Method, Book 1, Dolciani (1981 Ed.). (Click to enlarge)
The classic worked product example for teaching how to solve simple equations using the multiplication property of equality (a page I selected randomly).
The "lesson" is followed by a few more example and then the student is provided the opportunity to practice what has been taught by working various oral, written, and open-ended problems, relevant to the lesson so they can " practice a bit to really learn" it.
This is the traditional way algebra is taught. Apparently, it's only "tedious lecture" and "rote learning." Of course if it were rote learning the student would only be able to solve 4x = 52 and would have to be taught 5x = 50 and 3x = 36. But as any good connectivist will tell you, the student should be able to generalize a solution for any similar problem fitting the pattern of the worked problem example after sufficient practice.
It seems to me that the primary difference between this method of learning and the constructivist method of learning is that the "wonderfully detailed set of instruction instructions" isn't provided to the student beforehand. The student is supposed to figure them out (i.e., construct) this knowledge for himself. At least that's the theory.
Of course, in the real world, even the constructivists would rather see the instructions beforehand.