Learning and PCT -- just say goals?

[From Chris Cherpas (960328.0909 PT)]

Regarding the discussion on how to use PCT for designing educational
programs, I would say it's probably a mistake to think that you can
"just teach goals" and have students discover how to get to them on
their own. Centuries of cultural evolution would be wasted if each
generation of kids had to rediscover everything themselves; in fact,
the reason for formal schooling is precisely to allow new members of
the culture to take advantage of the cumulumative learning of their
progenitors. That doesn't mean PCT isn't relevant (but more on
that later...).

There are specific topographies of behavior that are better at
getting to a given goal than other topographies. In other words,
there are techniques that are worth teaching. Of course, one can
conceive of even the most detailed sequences of movements as goals,
and this is certainly a legitimate way to apply PCT to teaching.
Still, a _disregard_ for the "syntax" of behavior is inefficient,
if not dangerous, even if all behavior is ultimately a matter of
pragmatics -- i.e., the control of perceptions.

In addition to teaching "syntax," the teaching of semantics requires
more than "just teaching goals." Some organizations of concepts are
more systematic and consistent with the disciplines which have
evolved (e.g., sciences) than others, particularly "theories" one might
discover alone given only the goals to achieve. Again, once the goals
of conceptualization are _detailed_, you could guide a student toward
discoverying on their own concepts consistent with, say, current
scientific concepts. But, again, I don't think grossly stated goals
like, "What principle might allow one to understand how forces
interact with masses and their movements?" will lead to f=ma in the
amount of time a student has available to learn what is possible to
to learn in a lifetime.

Lately, there are two ways I'm thinking of to improve education, at
least as implemented in computer-based teaching, that are consistent
with PCT:

1) Provide students with tools for representing knowledge; for example,
    semantic networks, state diagrams, and other graphic forms that are
    easier to directly perceive than just the usual serial/linguistic forms
    such as text, equations, and so forth. Both are important, but there
    has been a neglect of forms of representations that can easily be
    manipulated and recognized quickly/visually. Perhaps this amounts
    to "going some levels down" -- making higher level perceptions
    representable at lower, more efficient/faster levels.

2) Provide exercises that are closer to the tracking experiments, in
    contrast to the usual question-and-answer formats. Within minutes,
    one might become much more fluent in controlling some educationally
    relevant perceptions than hours of lecture-question-answer routines.

One could trivialize these two proposals by saying that:

1) Interactive graphics are fun to play with on computers, so
    let's have lots of graphics;

2) Video games (similar to tracking experiments) are fun too,
    so let's have lots of video games.

In fact, I think educational software makers often commit these
formalistic fallacies -- i.e., focussing on surface features of
what could be a highly principled approach -- PCT in particular --
to implementing such systems. I'm really bored with "media-rich,"
but learning-poor computer-based instruction -- it's just yet
another example of keeping kids out of the driver's seat, dazzling
them as we do with TV into being busy and powerless.

Stepping down from the soapbox,
    {ps: comments on the PCT-ness of the two proposals appreciated}