Learning How to Clarify Complex Concepts for Children Through Naturalistic Inquiry: Moving Beyond Simplification

Learning How to Clarify Complex Concepts for Children Through Naturalistic Inquiry: Moving Beyond Simplification

William Farrelly (Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland) and Caroline Linse (Queens University Belfast, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8018-8.ch009

Abstract

The authors infer that pre-adolescents don't perform to their intellectual potential because they aren't taught how to think and research independently. Teaching to the curriculum has become a requirement, and this imposes restrictions on what can be achieved. The contention of this chapter is that a child can formulate effective thought independently through naturalistic inquiry. The question is posed: How do we teach a complex concept to a six-year-old child? The authors hypothesize an experiment thus: given an academic paper, is it possible to explain, without ambiguity, the essence of that paper to a child? The ideas encapsulated in this chapter can be extrapolated for returning adult learners and are particularly relevant to second language acquisition.
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Background

Sandberg and Barnard state that “it is easily assumed that learning itself proceeds smoothly and causes no particular difficulties. When learning is confronting difficulties, often external factors are held responsible, not some inherent difficulty in the learning process itself. Explanations for poor learning results found in terms of external factors usually range from pointing out the inadequacy of the subject matter area, the inadequacy of the student sample, to the inadequacy of the didactic approach”(Sandberg and Barnard 1997, p.15) . The authors contend that the cognitive processing that engages the student in meaningful learning can be fostered by the adoption of teaching practices that stimulate cognitive activity and that are compatible with naturalistic inquiry. The authors take their definition of ‘meaningful learning’ from Novak who defines it as a process that builds an “integrated framework of concepts and propositions, organised hierarchically, for a given domain of knowledge” (Novak 1998, p.22). Building expertise requires a continuous process of meaningful learning (Novak 1998). The authors describe how a concept can be taught to a child as a function of a naturalistic inquiry in a manner which will promote and foster meaningful and contextualised learning.

Almost all teaching, whether primary, secondary or tertiary, follows the model of classroom instruction, illustrated by the following diagram, which implies that for a given student, certain instructional processes lead to classroom learning that is reflected in achievement score (Fisher et al. 1981). In this model student aptitudes are of central importance.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Quality: Mechanisms applied to a naturalistic inquiry to gauge truth.

Higher Order Thinking: The atypical thinking that emanates from a naturalistic inquiry.

Self-Defined Reality: A reality emerging as a result of a naturalistic inquiry.

Natural Learning: An approach to learning in a manner that emulates nature.

Thought: The process of thinking, conceptualizing, and transfer.

Primary Education: Elementary education for pre-teenage children.

Truth: The idea of a universal constant.

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