Tag Archives: cognition/learning/understanding

Summerhill

“Summerhill: A private English boarding school founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill to implement his belief in the value of eliminating all compulsion from children’s lives. The school was initially opened under a different name in Germany in 1921; in 1923, the school moved to a house called Summerhill in Lyme Regis in the south of England, where it enrolled five pupils. Enrollment was never more than a few dozen students, but the school gained an international reputation because of its radical belief in children’s freedom and Neill’s widely read publications. His book Summerhill was a bestseller in the United States in the 1960s and became required reading in hundreds of universities. Neill was a spokesman for the most permissive wing of the progressive education movement, proposing that children should be free to decide how to live, what to learn, and whether they wanted to learn. Neill believed that ‘the function of the child is to live his own life—not the life that his anxious parents think he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows best.’”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Term of Art: Tracking

“tracking: A common instructional practice that assigns students to courses or curriculum programs with others who have similar academic goals or skills. Tracking often occurs as a result of student self-selection into programs or courses of varying levels of difficulty. In the past, tracking referred to the two separate paths that students chose to follow: college or a vocation. Currently, however, the term tracking is used to almost interchangeably with the term ability grouping and applies to all grade levels. As currently used, it refers to a decision by the school to place students in different classes according to their ability levels, the rationale being that it enables teachers to provide the same level of instruction to each group. This practice is criticized, however, by those who fear that students in low-level ability groups (or tracks) never gain access to challenging instruction.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Term of Art: Visual Perception

“visual perception: The ability to recognize and interpret visual information provided to the brain. Difficulties in visual perception are separate from and unrelated to impairment in the visual system that may diminish visual acuity or result in visual impairment or blindness. Visual perception involves the determination and discrimination of spatial information, as well as performance on tasks such as the discrimination of letters and words, geometric designs, and pictures.

Visual perception is an essential component of learning, especially in regard to reading development and to acquiring classroom information. Difficulties with visual perception may significantly affect and individuals ability to discriminate letters and words, and to work with mathematical information.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Term of Art: Relevant

“relevant: An adjective usually attached to an activity or reading assignment to show that it has some relationship to students own lives. Relevance has become very important in modern education, on the assumption that students want to learn mostly about ideas, events, and processes that they can connect to their personal experiences. The belief that whatever is studied must relate directly to students’ own lives ignores the fact that students need extensive background knowledge on which to build new understandings. If students learn only what is directly connected to their own lives, their universe of learning will be severely limited and dependent on their family and community resources.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Term of Art: Substitution

“substitution: A reading error made when an individual replaces the written word with a different word based on structural or semantic cues.

A structural substitution is when the reader guesses a word based on its visual structure. For example, a reader reads the word stipulate as stimulate because they look similar.

A semantic substitution occurs when a reader replaces a word that means the same thing. For example, a reader might add ‘Then they went to her house’ as ‘Then they went to her place,’ replacing house with place.

Substitution is common in the oral reading of all students and by itself should not be considered as evidence of a reading disability. Tracking reading errors through error analysis can help determine reading patterns and problems.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Elocution

“Elocution: The study and practice of oral delivery, including control of breath, voice, pronunciation, stance, and gesture (Has he taken elocution lessons?); the way in which someone speaks or reads aloud, especially in public (flawless elocution). An early meaning of the term was literary style as distinct from content, and relates to the Latin meaning of elocutio (‘speaking out’), one of the canons or departments of rhetoric. Elocution training in how to speak ‘properly’ (as in taking elocution lessons) was a feature of education, particularly for girls, in the 18th and 19th century. Shaw, who gave an extended dramatic treatment to elocution in Pygmalion (1912), added to his will in 1913 a clause giving some of the residue of his estate to ‘The substitution or a scientific training in phonetics for the makeshifts of so-called elocution lessons by actors and others who have hitherto prevailed in the teaching of oratory.””

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Term of Art: Visual Perception Disabilities

“visual perception disabilities: Students with visual perception disabilities have trouble making sense out of what they see, not because they have poor eyesight but because their brains process visual information differently.

Children with this problem have trouble organizing, recognizing, interpreting, or remembering visual images. This means that they will have trouble understanding the written and picture symbols they need in school—letters, words, numbers, math symbols, diagrams, maps, charts, and graphs.

Because this type of visual problem is subtle, it is often undiscovered until the child starts having problems in school. Visual perception problems include the ability to recognize images a person has seen before and attach meaning to them; to discriminate among similar images or words, and to separate significant features from background details; and to recognize the same symbol in different forms (understanding, for example, that the letter ‘D’ is the letter ‘D’ whether it is uppercase or lowercase, in different colors or fonts). Sequences are another important visual perception skill; a child with a visual sequencing problem may not understand the difference between the words ‘saw’ and ‘was.’

Students with visual perception problems are usually slow to learn letters and numbers, and often make mistakes, omissions, and reversals. They often have trouble with visual memory and visualization and may be extremely slow readers.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Term of Art: Thematic Unit

“thematic unit: A unit of study whose lessons are focused on a specific theme, sometimes covering a variety of subject areas. For example, the theme of inequality may be explored by studying the caste system in India and slavery in the American South. These units may be used as an alternative approach to teaching history, but history educators are critical of the tendency to teach such content without regard to a chronological framework. Themes that lack historical context, the critics say, are superficial and confusing.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Term of Art: Specific Language Disability

“specific language disability (SLD): A severe problem with some aspect of listening, speaking, reading, writing, or spelling, while skills in the other areas are age-appropriate. It is also called specific language learning disability.

The problems vary in focus and intensity, ranging from mild to severe. Some have severe problems with listening and reading (or receptive language) while others struggle with writing (expressive language); Other problems that often appear together with a specific learning disability include mild to severe organization problems and difficulty with directions.

Specific language disability may be a disorder of the left hemisphere of the brain, or a dominant right hemisphere.

Treatment Options and Outlook While there is no cure, the disability can be managed using educational methods and unconventional learning techniques. A multisensory approach is extremely important in teaching these students, making sure the person must hear, say, see, write, and use movement and feeling. For the reader with a specific language disability, this varied approach ensure that information will move from short- to long-term memory. This approach is called the VAKT (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Tactile) method.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Noam Chomsky, Famously, on Grammar and Meaning

“The notion ‘grammatical’ cannot be identified with ‘meaningful’ or ‘significant’ in any semantic sense. Sentences (1) and (2) are equally nonsensical, but…only the former is grammatical.

(1) Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

(2) Furiously sleep ideas green colorless.

Noam Chomsky, Syntactic Structures ch. 2 (1957)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.