Monday, December 27, 2010

Which Comes First: The Vocabulary or the Insight?

"We are so used to behaving as if the definition of words is the same as the meaning of events that I am sure that many people—teachers included—can listen to this lesson objective and hear nothing odd in it: 'Students will learn new vocabulary word needed to understand Newton's Laws.' But I wonder what sort of magic word this is that enables insight into physical forces. How is it that learning the definition of a word gains for a student insight into the movements of objects? Is it not rather that we need to be able to understand the phenomena before we can truly understand the vocabulary?" —Robert Voostrom, "Why I am Not Wearing a Tie," Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

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