People & Design module – Individual Research Day

Today, we tried to find some special outdoor activity to improve the SOEC. After school, I research about role playing in education, volunteering with children and compassionate kids care about animal.


Role playing, a derivative of a sociodrama, is a method for exploring the issues involved in complex social situations. It may be used for the training of professionals or in a classroom for the understanding of literature, history, and even science. (See also paper on use of Drama in Education on this website.)

The great developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, described two modes of learning: “assimilation” and “accommodation.” In assimilation, people figuratively “fill in” their mental map of their world, while in accommodation, they figuratively change that mental map, expand or alter it to fit their new perceptions. Both processes are complementary and concurrent, but different types of learning tend to emphasize one or the other mode.

Rote memorization tends to emphasize assimilation. In contrast, learning to climb a tree, swim, or ride a bicycle emphasizes accommodation. Accomodation involves a gaining of a “knack,” and tends to be the kind of learning that is almost impossible to fully forget. Assimilative learning, as we all know, is remarkably easy to forget.

Some kinds of rote memorization becomes accommodative to the extent that the words or ideas are linked to rhythms, poetic cadences, and music, and this is why a certain small group of activities–a recited bit of Shakespeare or a narrative song– may stay with an individual far more readily than, say, the list of vocabulary words mastered for a foreign language test and then forgotten. It has to do with the using of certain information.

Unfortunately, so much of education is oriented to the kinds of learning that can be more easily tested, which is assimilative, memorization-type learning. Yet what the world really needs is people who have skills, and skills go beyond mere knowledge of facts. Skills, though, require a more complex performance-oriented testing which requires more teacher attention, covers more subtle variables. And skills reflect an accommodative type of learning.

It is a commonly accepted cliché that we want to teach our young people to think, but thinking at any level of complexity requires an exercise of three interdependent component categories of skills: problem-solving; communications; and self-awareness. These skills cannot be learned by reading any number of books, although a little didactic material can be helpful in creating an intellectual framework for the accommodative learning. Rather, the kinds of skills needed for flexible, creative, rational thinking must be exercised, practiced, and learned in a process of interaction, risk-taking, self-expression, feedback, encouragement, and, in short, a process which is closer to learning to swim than learning the capitol cities of the various states.

Self-awareness need not be thought of as a type of psychoanalytic or otherwise obscurely psychologized process. The ancient Greeks called it “rhetoric,” and it referred to a heightened awareness of the ways the childish mind can accept deceptive ideas. One learns self-awareness not only by studying the psychodynamic “defense mechanisms,” but also by exploring cultural forms of manipulation, in political propaganda or advertising; in group dynamics, the tactics of brainwashing or group manipulation; and in learning about interpersonal manipulations. It extends to how people get taken in by phony statistics, but also turns again to help people reflect on how their own motives may interfere with their thinking clearly about a problem.

From this viewpoint, self-awareness is an integral part of problem-solving and communications. Self-awareness is essential to understanding others. And the best way to learn all three categories of skills (each category containing over a score of component skills) is through role playing.


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