Stephen Krashen wrote:
“I think that for other learning, the concept corresponding to the Comprehension Hypothesis is the hypothesis that we learn facts and concepts by trying to solve problems, not by study. I’ve presented the evidence for this in several places, including a chapter in Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use (Heinemann, 2004). Lots of very cheap used copies available at amazon,
Smart people never “study.” They try to solve problems.” in a post to the moretprs listserv. The following is a very tangetial take-off on his statement due to the anti-authoritarian and anti-hierarchical implications of the statement, i.e. rather than students passively receiving the wisdom of their elders (passivity in the face of authority, the hierarchy of the elders over the youngsters), the students are to engage in action and find out for themselves what works.
Thanks for articulating this, Dr. Krashen. I wish all this wisdom could be pulled together, but there’s so much of it: what you have discovered, what Frank Smith has ferreted out in the tricky ways experiments are tweaked to produce bogus results, in the research Alfie Kohn has done, and the number crunching of David Berlin, not to mention the work of psychologists and educators like Mel Levine and Richard Nisbett……. the list goes on and on.
But they all seem to have this in common: a rejection of the hierarchical view of human beings. Views on the broader society sussed out by Stephanie Coontz and Robert Putnam and on our history as revealed by researchers like Colin Woodard in his American Nations help us place the way we teach in context. That includes the attacks on teachers crippling our efforts to do our jobs.
We are now more than ever beset by forces given over to views such as these: For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material conditions, and many sorts of inequality. …. attempts at leveling lead, at best, to social stagnation. This statement of belief leads us to accept the social inequalities of squalid slums and underfunded schools b/c any attempt to change it leads, at best, to social stagnation b/c, you see, long-lasting consignment to the lower orders is somehow not stagnation but part of God’s natural order. Faced with people who think like this, we have no choice but to push as hard as we can to reach and uplift as many of our students as we can. We can study the words of our forebearers, but we must solve problems ourselves.