Putting Natural Learning in the Classroom (Roger Shank)

Theory Failure Recovery

Roger Shank spoke on “Teaching in a New Era” at the SITE conference

His vehemently argues that in natural learning we set a goal, we fail, we try again, and we develop a strategy for how to improve.

He gives these examples of goals set and achieved by people: a young child learning to say”cookie”; a person learning to skateboard; and a person learning to play the guitar.

In this theory, failure and recovery model, we want students to fail regularly, often, and early so that they can develop in their learning goals.

He proposes these “rules”:

A good teacher does not lecture.

A good teacher does not answer questions; he/she forces the students to answer their own questions.

A good teacher does not give grades.

A good teacher does not determine the curriculum; an expert in the subject area (a scientist) does that.

A good teacher does not have in-depth knowledge about the subject area; he/she facilitates learning in the subject area.

A good teacher does not tell the students what is interesting

Do you see students’ mistakes and errors as opportunities for learning? Does your classroom demonstrate natural learning? How do you use technology to facilitate natural learning?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


1 Response to “Putting Natural Learning in the Classroom (Roger Shank)”

  1. 1 Brinda Mahindra June 5, 2007 at 6:34 am

    While the intention behind these “rules” seem great, I wonder if they are practical in the real world.
    E.g. What if you have a below average student. wouldn’t the teacher need to give some answers to even begin the student’s thought process?
    And what about time limits. How much time do we have in hand to teach students as per the “rules” nowadays? Especially in countries such as mine (India) ?
    And if we go to the syllabus set by experts- the syllabus says teach so much in one year. Is that possible looking at the rules? And sometimes the experts are so far removed from Ground Zero that they may not always know what’s best. Sometimes its good to have a the opinion of a group of teachers.

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