Saturday, September 30, 2006

theory enriches practice enriches theory

  1. theoretical theory
  2. real time practice
  3. reflection
  4. practical theory
I can see an evolution from theoretical theory to practical theory in the transformation from my initial draft (March 06) to the current draft (September 06) of my Cairns paper, Teaching programming skills using game making blogs and wikis

March version:
At the beginning of this version I talk about the theories of Papert (constructionism, mathetics), Siemens (connectivism), Harel & Papert (ISDP) in a theoretical way. Nothing wrong with that. Having knowledge of these theories and having used some of them in the past in a practical manner was an important influence in developing the course which is the subject of my Cairns paper

September version:
Nevertheless, in the process of teaching the course and thinking about it the theoretical emphasis has changed. The theory is now mainly expressed in the three ideas section and the course dynamics section.

three ideas:
  • ... programming is one of the best computer games ...
  • ... we use language to author ourselves, assisted by many co-authors as we grow up
  • eat your own dogfood
course dynamics, the contrasts between:
  • teacher directed skill development and open ended exploration
  • serious work and play
  • doing and documenting
  • individual and group work
  • spoon feeding and eating your own dogfood
I think the theory is now closer to the actual practice of the course, that it is a transformation from theoretical theory (fairly general abstractions which can be used in a fumbling or patchy way to formulate the rough outlines of a course) to practical theory, which are still abstractions but which are much more closely and meaningfully connected to the course content

So, my approach does recognise the importance of theory as something that does cast a light to illuminate the future but also that theory has to return to practice, to be further enriched by practice and reformulated through that process

This process hasn't finished. I can look at the three ideas and the five dynamics and see the potential and need to develop them further. I'm not just talking about tweaking here either, it might involve significant conceptual restructure too. The theory practice cycle never ends. Learning evolves.

Related reading:
ascending from the abstract to the concrete
feedback as truth seeking


Anonymous said...

intersting read....

Anonymous said...

I like "eat your own dog food" Bill - and wish I was coming to Cairns like the rest of NZ ICT educators so that I could enjoy this thinking in person

I am reading the 23 September New Scientist - "Is he thinking what you're thinking" Andy Coghlan -

There is a classic insight into identity loss or a metaphor for how knowing yourself as a learner can be compromised by school - seems that when you "treat a dog with antibiotics you risk killing the bacteria that live in its anal sac and produce the individual scent by which it is recognisable to other dogs."

Is not intentional identity theft is an act borne of our failure to see life from a dogs perspective -

Bill Kerr said...

The URL to the New Scientist article which arti refers to is, Animal welfare: See things from their perspective

What a wonderful extension to the "eat your own dogfood" metaphor