Wednesday 27th July 2016

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Computers And Self-Directed Learning

December 6, 2013 Featured Today No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

I wouldn’t blame anyone who reacts skeptically when they hear about new teaching methods. We have seen innovations such as “schools without walls,” “open classrooms,” “team teaching,” and “group learning exercises” come and go. But having a respect for tradition and proven methods does not mean we should refuse to consider every innovative teaching method that is proposed. Sometimes a new idea is a good idea. Perhaps the educational reform advocated by computer guru Joshua Davis on the web site Wired (www.wired.com/business/2013/10/free-thinkers/) is in that category. See what you think.
Davis’ column is entitled “How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses.” He begins by calling our attention to a village in India, where a “small group of students between the ages of 10 and 14 was given a computer loaded with molecular biology materials.” The students were told “there was some interesting stuff on the computer, and might they take a look.” Then the teacher “said no more and left the room.”
Those of you who have watched your children or grandchildren cluster around an iPad and amaze you with their computer skills know what happened next. “Over the next 75 days,” writes Davis, “the children worked out how to use the computer and began to learn.” When the teacher returned, he administered a written test on molecular biology. “The kids answered about one in four questions correctly. After another 75 days,” with some encouragement and guidance, “they were getting every other question right.”
The educational consultant behind this experiment states flatly, “If you put a computer in front of children and remove all other adult restrictions, they will self-organize around it like bees around a flower.” This consultant is now in the process of establishing five more schools in India based on this approach. “There will be no teachers, curriculum, or separation into age groups — just six or so computers and a woman to look after the kids’ safety. His defining principle: ‘The children are completely in charge’.” He is convinced that “the information revolution has enabled a style of learning that wasn’t possible before.”
What do these self-directed schools look like? “The exterior of his schools,” Davis continues, “will be mostly glass, so outsiders can peer in. Inside, students will gather in groups around computers and research topics that interest them. He has also recruited a group of retired British teachers who will appear occasionally on large wall screens via Skype, encouraging students to investigate their ideas.”
Those behind these new Indian schools point out that their ideas are rooted in “educational practices dating back to Socrates. Theorists from Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi to Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori have argued that students should learn by playing and following their curiosity. Einstein spent a year at a Pestalozzi-inspired school in the mid-1890s, and he later credited it with giving him the freedom to begin his first thought experiments on the theory of relativity. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin similarly claim that their Montessori schooling imbued them with a spirit of independence and creativity.”
There is much to ponder about these studies of Indian children and their computers. Many teachers have been fascinated by the phenomenon of students whom they can’t keep on task in a lecture eagerly clustering around a computer to pursue Google searches and other links to come up with answers. Computers have been with us long enough to conclude that this is not just a passing fad. Modern students like computers; they like to learn things on computers; they are willing to work with each other in pursuit of knowledge on their computers. It would be foolish not to seek a way to harness this curiosity for classroom purposes.
I can hear some howls of protest out there. I sympathize with those who are doing the howling. It is not just Piaget and Maria Montessori who would be applauding this new form of independent study. So would Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Dewey. It strikes me that self-directed computer research proceeds from the same assumptions as theirs. It presumes that there is no inherited body of knowledge, no set of traditions that adult authorities have the responsibility “to preserve, protect, defend, and extend” — to use Russell Kirk’s definition of the purpose of an educational system. It would be a mistake to permit our enthusiasm over these self-directed computerized classes in India to cause us to forget that Kirk’s understanding of the mission of our schools is the correct one.
But perhaps this concern can be incorporated into a self-directed computer class. Might it be that all we would have to do is guarantee that topics, theories, and authors central to the heritage of the Christian West are included in the assignments given to the teams of students doing research on their computers? If, for example, terms such as federalism, original sin, democracy of the dead, moral relativism, national sovereignty, apostolic succession, laissez-faire, and Hitler-Stalin pact were given to the students to research on their computers, might that not provide for Russell Kirk’s understanding of a sound education? If not, why not? We welcome our readers’ reactions.
On another topic: the ongoing loss of the Catholic identity at our Catholic colleges. If you were to hear that a professor at Harvard or Yale was organizing students to work with pro-abortion groups, you would not be surprised. You would see it as understandable, considering that the secularization of those universities has moved far beyond the original sense of mission of the Protestant churches that founded them.
It looks as if Georgetown University, once considered an exemplar of Jesuit higher education in this country, is coming close to the same degree of secularization.
The Cardinal Newman Society has recently reported that “a class at Georgetown University’s law school scheduled for next semester will have students working with a pro-abortion rights advocacy organization, taught by that organization’s senior counsel, Kelli Garcia. Garcia, a radical pro-abortion rights lawyer, wrote the poem titled, ‘Planned Parenthood, Why Do I Love Thee?’ in 2011. The poem was part of a larger effort by Garcia and her group to halt the potential defunding of Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s largest abortion provider.”
The Georgetown law class, titled Regulatory Advocacy: Women and the Affordable Care Act, will have students working with the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), “to develop projects that will assist in the organization’s regulatory advocacy efforts.” Students will also have the opportunity to participate in strategy meetings and conference calls between NWLC and partnering organizations.
Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, views this latest scandal as the unfortunate culmination of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Writes Reilly, “We have long warned about Georgetown scandals that undermine the Church’s strong defense of innocent life. But here students are being required to work for a pro-abortion lobby, making America’s oldest Catholic university an active agent of the culture of death. If allowed to continue, this puts Georgetown in direct opposition to the Church.”
Additional information about this collaboration between Georgetown and Planned Parenthood can be found at the Newman Society’s web site, www.cardinalnewmansociety.org, in the Catholic Education Daily section (October 24, 2013).

+    +    +

Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about this and other educational issues. The e-mail address for First Teachers is fitzpatrijames@sbcglobal.net, and the mailing address is P.O. Box 15, Wallingford, CT 06492.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Anti-abortion duo behind Planned Parenthood videos cleared

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas judge on Tuesday dismissed the last remaining charge against two California anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. District Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the tampering with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Islam is ‘fundamentally a form of government’

Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a telephone interview that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.” Speaking with Religion News Service, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that “when they (Muslims) become the majority in any…Continue Reading

Nienstedt: misconduct allegations retribution for opposition to gay marriage

In other words, he’s the real victim here. Marino Eccher of the PiPress says, “John Nienstedt, the former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, said accusations of sexual misconduct against him were part of a false smear campaign in response…Continue Reading

5 faith facts on Mike Pence: A ‘born-again, evangelical Catholic’

(RNS) While an official announcement has not yet been made, IndyStar and other media outlets are reporting that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate. Pence became governor of the Hoosier State in…Continue Reading

Trump In Tatters As Catholic Voters Shift Their Support To Hillary Clinton

A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans as Catholic voters have shifted their support to Hillary Clinton. A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans…Continue Reading

St. Anne Catholic Church prepares for 136th annual novena

There used to be a steady flow of stories, tales of miracle cures. They were covered in the Daily Journal, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, in the early 1900s. The Catholic church in St. Anne, a village of 1,239,…Continue Reading

More deception in the war on Card. Sarah

Speaking at a liturgy conference in London, Card. Sarah, clearly not acting in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a personal appeal to priests to say Mass ad orientem and the world is coming down on his head.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Caffarra on Marriage, Family, Amoris Laetitia, & Confusion in the Church

cardc

Editor’s note: the following is an exclusive interview with Cardinal Carlo Caffara, conducted by OnePeterFive’s Dr. Maike Hickson. Cardinal Caffarra is Archbishop emeritus of Bologna and former member of the Pontifical Council for the Family. It was in a letter to Cardinal…Continue Reading

Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion

LONDON, July 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in London yesterday, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the…Continue Reading

This priest died in a Korean prison camp. Will the Catholic Church beatify him?

Wichita, Kan., Jul 2, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There’s good news in Kansas: former army chaplain Father Emil J. Kapaun has taken a step closer to possible beatification and sainthood. But for Scott Carter, coordinator for the Father…Continue Reading

The Affirmative Argument for Receiving Communion on the Tongue

A recent post at the site Roman Catholic Man has focused a great deal of attention on the manner in which the faithful receive Communion. As any discussion regarding the Eucharist is a discussion about Our Lord Himself, the importance…Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton: “I Will Always Stand With Planned Parenthood,” It Does “Extraordinary Things”

Earlier this month, pro-abortion presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told activists at a Planned Parenthood abortion business rally that she would “always have your back.” She means it. In an op-ed written to bolster support for America’s biggest abortion business, Hillary…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

An eighty-four year old priest brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists during Mass in a Church in Normandy – The seed of hate

2016-07-26 L’Osservatore Romano Paris, 26. Shock and horror at the “absurd violence”, radical condemnation for “every form of hatred” and prayer for the victims. These were the first sentiments expressed by Pope Francis – through the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi – at yet another episode of jihadist terror in Francis, barely two weeks from the attack in Nice of 14 July. Two men armed with knives broke into a…Continue Reading

Catholic priest to Tim Kaine: ‘Don’t show up in my communion line’

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic priest asked that pro-abortion Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine “do us both a favor” and not show up in his Communion line. “I take Canon 915 seriously. It’d be embarrassing for you & for me,” tweeted Dominican Father Thomas Petri, the vice president and academic dean of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.

WaPo: A “Pope Francis Catholic” can have a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, NARAL

Just one example of how the secular media is going to spin, spin, and spin some more in the quest to provide cover for pro-abort, pro-homosexual politicians. UPDATED (9:15pm, Pacific; July 22): Sen. Kaine has been chosen to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate. In the meantime, CWR’s managing editor, Catherine Harmon, reminded me of this interesting story from last year: U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a practicing Catholic and former missionary, had a clear message Wednesday…Continue Reading

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin . . . VP Pick, Tim Kaine, a Catholic?

From the Facebook page for Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Diocese of Providence. Democratic VP choice, Tim Kaine, has been widely identified as a Roman Catholic. It is also reported that he publicly supports “freedom of choice” for abortion, same-sex marriage, gay adoptions, and the ordination of women as priests. All of these positions are clearly contrary to well-established Catholic teachings; all of them have been opposed by Pope Francis as well. Senator Kaine…Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton Names Pro-Abortion Tim Kaine VP, Says He’s “Catholic” Who “Supports Abortion”

kaine

Abortion activist Hillary Clinton today tapped pro-abortion Virginia Senator Tim Kaine has her vice-presidential running mate. The Virginia politician is on record as trying to have it both ways — saying he is both a “traditional Catholic” and a strong supporter of abortion. Kaine has a pro-abortion record and the potential Clinton running mate is not following anyone. As LifeNews previously reported, Kaine said he is a “strong supporter of Roe v. Wade” despite supposedly…Continue Reading

Companions Of Jesus

By JAMES DRUMMEY Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Below is a talk given by James Drummey, editor of the Catholic Replies column, at a retreat in Vermont, June 11, 2016. We are publishing his talk in two parts because of its length.) + + + Of all the 73 books in the Bible, only one —…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . The Indissolubility Of Marriage, As Affirmed By The Liturgy

By JAMES MONTI Later this year, as you may have already read, a revised edition of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony is going to be promulgated in the United States, featuring notably a new, more accurate translation of the Latin text revised according to the principles of the Holy See’s 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam. Additionally,…Continue Reading

UN Court Rebuffs China’s Claims To South China Sea

By JOHN J. METLZER UNITED NATIONS — In a major legal setback for Beijing, an international tribunal has rejected and rebuffed many of Mainland China’s claims regarding exclusive sovereignty and rights in the disputed South China Sea. The mid-July landmark ruling in The Hague, by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, stated there was no evidence…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Readings And Meditations For Praying The Rosary

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY How to Pray the Secret Rosary by Frank M. Rega OFS (CreateSpace, 132 pages, Paperback $11.43, ebook $6.30). Available at amazon.com. This slim paperback from Frank Rega gives guidance on how to pray the rosary when you aren’t necessarily able to pray with rosary beads — if you are doing household…Continue Reading

Who Gave Us Justice Ginsburg?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Her mind is shot.” That was the crisp diagnosis of Donald Trump on hearing the opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the possibility he might become president. It all began with an interview the past week when the justice was asked for her thoughts on a Trump presidency. Ginsburg went…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

From Casuistry To Mercy… Toward A New Art Of Pleasing?

By MSGR. MICHEL SCHOOYANS Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Michel Schooyans wrote the following essay for LifeSiteNews, which graciously granted reprint permission to The Wanderer. The essay is appearing in two parts because of its length; part one appeared in last week’s issue. (John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, provided this background information about the essay: (“Msgr. Michel Schooyans, a top…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Profile Of A “Saturday Vigil Commando”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Meet the Saturday vigil commando: She will go to Mass any day of the week, at practically any time of the day, except Sunday. She is a veritable fixture at the Saturday vigil Mass and will even return to the parish on Sundays faithfully once per month to help count the offertory collection, but will…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church… The Great Catholic Library: The Bible

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 10 “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” said St. Jerome, one of the greatest Bible scholars of all times, who translated the whole Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into Latin in the fourth century — over one thousand years before Martin Luther preached his heresies in Europe. Luther and his followers down…Continue Reading

Liturgical Diversity And Unity

By DON FIER In considering where the liturgy is celebrated, we saw last week that “the worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24) of the New Covenant is not tied exclusively to any place because Christ is the true temple of God” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCCC], n. 244). It is through Him that the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I would like to know where St. Patrick is buried. — M.A., Pennsylvania. A. St. Patrick, who died in AD 461, is thought to be buried next to Down Cathedral in Northern Ireland. Once a former Benedictine monastery that was built in 1163, the church now belongs to the Church of Ireland and is known as the Cathedral Church…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Olaf

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Vikings! The word Viking comes from a Scandinavian word vik meaning bay or creek, with the extended word meaning pirate. The images the word brings to mind are amazing ships landing around Europe, even on the northeastern fringes of North America, to raid, pillage, and destroy. Although this did happen to some extent, the Vikings also…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Cassian

By CAROLE BRESLIN Frequently, the lives of the saints demonstrate that God calls us to go in directions that we would never consider unless it became clear that it is God’s will. St. Francis Xavier went to the Far East, St. Damien died in Hawaii on the opposite side of the world from his native Belgium, and St. John Cassian…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading