January 06, 2008

More on PhD

I’m doing a PhD in education – and two years in realised I hadn;t actually done anything specifically about education in the work I’d been doing. It’s a five year programme – so there’s time to address it – the only problem was that I realised this in the middle of my upgrade …

So I got my head round constructivism and behaviourism and situativism and all the other stuff – well “head round” is an exaggeration – I found a brief glossary and read that (it’s the LADIE taxonomy – very useful). I’ve also read a paper on metaphors of learning – acquisisiton and participation. And I’ve just come across something on Freudan and Lacanian analysis of learning.

Why this has helped is that it’s all enabled me to realise – I’m just not really very interested,

I mean, the papers are all very readable, and there’s some insights in there that could be useful – but it’s really not something I want to get bogged down into – actually understanding how people learn or what the competing theories are. I just want to know what they do and maybe how to make it better. The whole idea of postulating what happens in people;s brains when they do it just seems unnecessary – and too difficult to really determine anyway.

Superficial? Maybe – but it makes doing the literature review a lot easier – if anything mentions psychology I can just put it away and move on to the next thing.

Any other educationalists really go along with this – or am I letting the side down in a big way here?


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Matt

    You’re letting the side down in a big way I’m afraid.

    An analogous comment about medical research would be “I don’t want to bother understanding how the body actually works, I just want to know how to make ill people better”. These two things are related: you need one to do the other.

    How can you have any idea of how to help people learn better, if you have no idea of how learning works? I suppose it would be possible to randomly try teaching innovations and see if they work, but it wouldn’t be a very scholarly activity, and would be pretty dodgy ethically: equivalent to injecting ill people with random chemicals to see if they help.

    06 Jan 2008, 23:17

  2. Actually that’s a great analogy – people still don;t know how the body works but medicine has been working successfully for millennia. Trying things randomly and seeing what works seems to be the most effective way forward therefore. Phew – you just proved my position. Thanks.

    07 Jan 2008, 17:07

  3. Matt

    Hmmm. I’m no historian of medicine, but I think it is probably true to say that healthcare got rather more effective as a result of deeper physiological knowledge. Anyhow, good luck with convincing your examiners of your position!

    07 Jan 2008, 21:38


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