Our selection of readings this week, for me, examines the relationship between existing schema and the ability to expand schema within a social context. I am left questioning how closely existing student schema might need to be in order to facilitate comprehension and what the benefits might be if information does NOT match schema might be.
Ie point where student’s existing schema’s do not match with new information a place for potential creative revision?
There seems to be a bit of unacknowledged bias towards one correct meaning in McVee et al, as illustrated by the example of the lesson on racism. Deng’s interpretation of the shades of hand color as a literal activity to check-out varying tones of skin color – and not an exploration of racism – indicates a problem for the authors in the way in which the lesson was delivered. Deng and the teacher are characterized as failing to meet the task of the lesson adequately. Yet, as Ferdman points out, being literate in a particular culture can be defined as sharing the same set of conventional schema.
Since Deng does not share this schema, he did not make the “correct” connections. However, I am left wondering if the class would not have been enriched by Deng’s perspective. His failure to perceive the existing set of constructs that underlie American racism could have been a very deconstructing and fruitful exploration for the class to experience.
The authors identify small group peer work, or class discussions where Deng would have had a chance to express his reading as a remedy. Though I don’t necessarily agree with the problem they identify, I agree with the solution. Not only would Deng potentially gained additional resources from discussion, the whole class would have gained something from his “incorrect” reading.
The readings overall support the notion of collaborative learning. Sharing of multiple readings in small group activities, reading multiple perspectives on a topic area, and utilizing reading tools such as journals and free writes may help students to not only grasp the information being shared, but to make a connection between Rosenblatt’s efferent and aesthetic continuum, in terms of absorbing or understanding facts versus deep topic on a more complex or literary text.
Though, uncomfortable and sometimes unpleasant, isn’t challenging existing schema part of a college education? Does information that does not fit existing schema engender energy, excitement and creative thought? Perhaps even skills and abilities not stereotypically assigned to one’s particular subject position can unexpectedly occur. J