Children as Methodology

A Basic Question Concerning Educational Methods

I would like to consider what it means to think about issues from the perspective of "children." I have been trained in the field of teaching and educational methods. When a certain educational method is developed, the main question is whether it is effective for children in practice, and if so, why? This field not only addresses methodology, but environmental factors related to education such as how a classroom should be set up, how many students there should be in a class, and so on.

However, not being entirely satisfied with these approaches, I wondered if there might not be a more fundamental way to pose questions in this field. For example, "Discours de la methode" by Rene Descartes is said to be the scientific methodology that allows for the possibility of science. By analogy, teaching methods could be studied with a more fundamental approach to examine how education becomes possible.

In order to ask the question why education becomes possible, it must be assumed that education is difficult. It assumed that the difficulty is probably related to the discontinuity in intellectual development.

Children are supposed to develop continuously in their growing process. There must be continuity in the sense of individual development since a human being goes through a process of becoming an adult. However, a qualitative change takes place at a certain point that creates a difference between the previous and present stage, and in this, it is possible to say the development is discontinuous.

Adults completely forget what they used to think in their childhood. We need to study carefully whether they simply forget what happened or they do not understand because the structure of cognition has changed. I suspect that this "forgetting" can be largely attributed to a qualitative change in cognition.

The concept of conservation by Jean Piaget is a good example of this. When children under a certain age are shown a fixed number of marbles arranged in one row, which is then expanded or contracted, they are unable to understand that the number of marbles remains the same. In spite of having undergone the same stage of development themselves, adults find the result of experiment strange and wonder why children do not understand that only the length of the row has changed. This is probably due to a structural change in cognition.

Discontinuity common to intellectual development and scientific knowledge

Incidentally it seems that the process of intellectual development is quite similar to that of scientific development. Some scholars in the philosophy of science assert that the scientific revolution from the Ptolemaic system to the Copernican system was "a continuous development." Others insist that on the aspect of discontinuity and see the scientific revolution as a result of a qualitative change. There seems to be a high correlation between discontinuity in scientific development and intellectual development not only in terms of recognized content but also in terms of the process.

For example, children find it more difficult to understand the change from the Ptolemaic theory to the Copernican theory than adults think. In their experience, the earth is stationery. It is hard to believe that children are easily convinced when they are told that the earth rotates and revolves around the sun.

Children start to wonder why people say that the earth is moving although it seems to be stationery. A discontinuity occurs, and they are faced with having to take a leap in order to come to terms with this assertion. This leap plays a role in the acquisition of scientific knowledge, but how can such leaps be made possible in education? I believe that this is a central question in the field of educational method today.
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