12 April 2014

Four Categories of Learning Goals

The four categories of learning outlined below are relevant to all levels of education—especially to the education of young children:

education of young children
1. Knowledge. In early childhood, knowledge consists of facts, concepts, ideas, vocabulary, stories, and many other aspects of children's culture. Children acquire such knowledge from someone's answers to their questions, explanations, descriptions, and accounts of events, as well as through active and constructive processes of making the best sense they can of their own direct observations.

2. Skills. Skills are small units of action that occur in a relatively short period of time and are easily observed or inferred. Physical, social, verbal, counting, and drawing skills are among a few of the almost endless number of skills learned in the early years. Skills can be learned from direct instruction or imitated based on observation, and they are improved with guidance, practice, repetition, drill, and actual application or use.

3. Dispositions. Dispositions can be thought of as habits of mind or tendencies to respond to certain situations in certain ways. Curiosity, friendliness or unfriendliness, bossiness, generosity, meanness, and creativity are examples of dispositions or sets of dispositions, rather than of skills or items of knowledge. Accordingly, it is useful to keep in mind the difference between having writing skills and having the disposition to be a writer, or having reading skills and having the disposition to be a reader (Katz, 1995).

Dispositions are not learned through formal instruction or exhortation. Many important dispositions, including the dispositions to learn and to make sense of experience, are in-born in all children—wherever they are born and are growing up. Many dispositions that most adults want children to acquire or to strengthen—for example, curiosity, creativity, cooperation, openness, friendliness—are learned primarily from being around people who exhibit them; they are strengthened by being used effectively and by being appreciated rather than rewarded (Kohn, 1993).

To acquire or strengthen a particular disposition, a child must have the opportunity to express the disposition in behavior. When manifestations of the dispositions occur, they can be strengthened as the child observes their effectiveness and the responses to them and experiences satisfaction from them. Teachers can strengthen certain dispositions by setting learning goals rather than performance goals. A teacher who says, "See how much you can find out about something," rather than, "I want to see how well you can do," encourages children to focus on what they are learning rather than on an external evaluation of their performance (Dweck, 1991).

4. Feelings. Feelings are subjective emotional states. Some feelings are innate (e.g., fear), while others are learned. Among feelings that are learned are those of competence, confidence, belonging, and security. Feelings about school, teachers, learning, and other children are also learned in the early years.

Four Categories of Learning Goals

Source: Another Look at What Young Children Should Be Learning - Author: Lilian G. Katz

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