ERIC Number: EJ1014269
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jun
Reference Count: 5
Voices from the Field: The Sweater Debate about Instruction in Classrooms
McWilliam, R. A.
Young Exceptional Children, v16 n2 p45-48 Jun 2013
The author begins by stating that Mark Wolery has probably done more than anyone else to remind the field that teaching children is the most important thing practioners do in classrooms and that there is research on what good instruction looks like. However, the author asserts that he has a different take on the new (although it began "a couple decades ago") sweater that Wolery (2012, p. 41), in his "Voices from the Field" article, bemoans as the replacement of "purposeful direct instruction sessions." That new sweater is naturalistic approaches. A naturalistic approach to teaching is one where the instruction occurs in the context (time, place, people, materials) of the child's engagement (i.e., what the child is doing or appears interested in). The antonym in Wolery's article is "purposeful direct instruction sessions." This implies that naturalistic approaches are not purposeful, that they are somehow indirect (perhaps in large groups), and that they do not occur in sessions. It also implies that purposeful direct instruction sessions are done one-on-one or in small groups, at scheduled occasions. The author asserts that the heart of the issue appears to be the dosage of instruction children receive. He outlines four calls to action: (a) to IEP teams, to improve the functionality of goals; (b) to researchers, to study the dosage of instruction needed; (c) to teacher educators, to ensure teachers are competent at prompt procedures; and (d) to teachers, to improve contexts and the quality and quantity of naturalistic instruction. He argues that the problem is not necessarily the naturalistic approach, but the functionality of goals being written for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). He concludes by stating that Wolery's view about the quality or quantity of teaching is well founded, but but the solution is not to put on the old tatty sweater knitted in artificial, experimental conditions but rather to darn the slightly newer sweater knitted in authentic, real-world conditions.
Descriptors: Teaching Methods, Early Childhood Education, Learner Engagement, Time Factors (Learning), Context Effect, Direct Instruction, Small Group Instruction, Individualized Education Programs, Goal Orientation, Special Education, Early Intervention, Disabilities, Prompting, Teacher Competencies, Educational Quality
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Authoring Institution: N/A