Thinking About Frameworks

Last night we had company for supper (this is a regular weekly event) and S and another friend began a discussion of the pricing schemes of buffet style restaurants. They spoke at some length about what things were the best deal for the customer and which were the best deal for the restaurant.? I supposed I must have looked amused because S asked me later what I found so funny.

“Oh,” I said, ” I never think about these things but you two seem to notice them all the time.”

“You don’t look at everything and wonder why it is priced and packaged the way it is?”

“No, I compare things like phonics programs, not pricing.”

“That’s it, “he said,” You look at things in terms of their impact on a learning environment.”

That got me thinking…How much of what I do to teach the children comes from my abiding interest in learning? I tend to think of many of the things we do as obvious ways of developing their individuality and ability to learn, but maybe those things aren’t as obvious as I think.

I think there are two basic kinds of learning environments, they have different functions and emphasizing one more than the other will? lead to different outcomes.

The first kind is the more obvious one: the formal classroom where specific instruction is given at specific times for specific purposes. Here there is order and discipline, students are taught to follow instructions exactly and to internalize and repeat factual information. Some classrooms will allow for exploration but even that will usually be done under constraints of time, and space as well as the needs of the other students.

This kind of classroom is very important. Students need to learn to listen, follow instructions and meet expectations. They need to learn not to just follow their whimsy but to “buckle down” to the things they find difficult or boring. They also need to learn to function in a group for the good of the group and a well run classroom can provide all of these things.

The second kind of learning environment is that which recognizes that there is something to learn in every interaction with the people and things around us. This environment encourages curiosity. Students are provided with the tools and time to stop and explore around the way. There can be specific goals or tasks set, but the experience is as important (or sometimes more important) than the completion.? This might be called a? holistic approach as the teacher or parents try to engage the whole student in the learning process.

The thing I find interesting to think of as a framework is this: if the point of parenting or education is to teach children to be aware of who they are and of what their responsibilities and privileges are in the world, then what things in which type of learning environments will bring them to the point of self-awareness and ability to participate as full members of the community?

The answer to that question is foundational to what things we choose to include in our children’s learning environments.

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9 Responses to Thinking About Frameworks

  1. allen says:

    Are you familiar with the Trivium? A good amount of the web surfing, reading and lectures I’ve consumed recently has had to do with education. In this I found Dorthy Sayers’ excellent appeal for other frameworks to serve childrens’ needs, “The Lost Tools of Education”, that contrasts contemporary frameworks with more classical ideas, and thought it really worth the read.

  2. K_Steinmann says:

    Yes, I am familiar with the trivium and Sayers’ essay. I think she has some good points but find that many of the modern applications are lacking in “spark”. That is they are a “thing to do” and the children are never really given opportunities to love learning.
    This is not always the case, but it takes very gifted teachers, administrators, and parents to use this method without turning into a set of rules to be followed. Once it has become a set of rules it stops engaging the curiosity of the child and once more we are on the path of “I hate school.”

  3. Timothy Diller says:

    I eat at a buffett everyday and I wonder if I eat more or less than average. I wonder if I’m in the profitable half of their customers or the other half. Does the cheese cost more than than the olives and how much do they expect you to take. Is it a condiment or a staple. I’m sure the lettuce is cheap but I don’t like it that much.

  4. K_Steinmann says:

    Timothy, that’s a little off topic, but I’ll ask S if he wants to weigh in on it…..

  5. Timothy says:

    I know.

  6. Sue says:

    @Kyndra since I was the other end of the conversation I don’t mind weighing in if you don’t mind the tangent! I promise, I think I can even bring it back on point 😉

    @Timothy generally speaking, any “average” buffet customer is profitable because most restaurant owners build their cost around the 80/10/10 assumption.

    In other words, 80% of their buffet customers are “average” eaters, 10% are under-eaters and 10% are over-eaters.

    We’ve been bouncing the question of what customers derive the most value from on the buffet for several weeks now. Obviously individual tastes matter, but he and I were attempting to use cost per pound as a proxy of measurement because that is our framework. He and I are both intensely curious about pricing and packaging in retail formats and take our Tuesday conversations as an opportunity to share what we’ve learned since we previously talked.

    After all, who isn’t fascinated by what separates people from the fruits of their hard earned labor? I was actually most surprised that buffets (in appropriate niches) were universally popular with the entire crowd – comity!

  7. K_Steinmann says:

    Considering that the “crowd” includes vegetarians, meat eaters and children that really was a bit of a surprising find…..

    I’m probably the only one who doesn’t really care for them.

    On the other hand most Chinese buffets have a fish tank of some kind which is an excellent teaching opportunity.

  8. allen says:

    Funny K, I interpreted the Triv in a completely different way: not as a set of rules (though grammar and logic are) but a set of tools that can be employed in any endeavor.

  9. K_Steinmann says:

    Well yes, that’s how it should be interpreted, BUT that’s a LOT more work than just applying it as a set of rules. I asked my mother about this yesterday (she taught Latin in a Trivium school for several years) and she said that most of the people she knows in the movement don’t even understand why they are teaching Latin. They fail completely to understand how the whole thing works together to teach people how to think, reason etc.

    My experience of most people who have been through a Trivium/Classical School is that they couldn’t think their way out of a wet paper bag. Obviously there are some people who do get it and who do benefit, but they do a lot of work to get that benefit.

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