I read with interest, the article in The Economist last week recounting an experiment where 4-5 year old kids were to play with a toy, having been given different amounts of information about the toy from an adult.
The results showed that the children who were left to play with the toy having been given little or no information about the toy remained interested in the toy for longer and discovered more features of the toy as well. The children who had been shown all the features of the toy had played with the toy for a far shorter period of time.
The message clearly is that we should allow children to make their own meaning through what they encounter, and try to play the “guide on the side” rather than the “sage on the stage”. One premise of the study was the belief that if students are given facts by the teacher, once the transfer of knowledge ends, the students assume that is the boundary of all knowledge for that topic. Whereas with a more discovery based approach, the boundaries of knowledge do not exist.
I can see that the internet is an ideal discovery tool: a limitless encyclopaedia of knowledge and opinion from which children can make their own meaning.
Bonawitz, Elizabeth. “Educational Psychology: Now You Know | The Economist.” The Economist – World News, Politics, Economics, Business & Finance. The Economist, 26 May 2011. Web. 02 June 2011. .