THE LEARNER SHOULD DIRECT THEIR OWN LEARNING
In a paper published in Educational Psychologist last year, Jeroen J.G. van Merriënboer of Maastricht University and Paul A. Kirschner of the Open University of the Netherlands challenged the popular assumption “that it is the learner who knows best and that she or he should be the controlling force in her or his learning.” This assumption forms the basis of much of the approach to ‘progressive’ education.
There are three problems with this premise, according to van Merriënboer and Kirschner The first is that novices, by definition, don’t yet know much about the subject they’re learning, and so are ill equipped to make effective choices about what and how to learn next.
The second problem is that learners “often choose what they prefer, but what they prefer is not always what is best for them;” that is, they practice tasks that they enjoy or are already proficient at, instead of tackling the more difficult tasks that would actually enhance their expertise.
Third, although learners like having some options, unlimited choices quickly become frustrating—as well as mentally taxing, constraining the very learning such freedom was supposed to liberate.
In any case, they argue, the whole agenda is not based on well tested theories backed by empirical evidence but instead on research that is methodologically flawed. In short. its based on ‘pseudoscience’.