When people ask why I favour a traditionalist approach, I readily reply with the following crude analogy:
If I’m hungry and I want to be fed, what’s going to nourish me quicker: Discovering where the fridge is of my own accord, or being told, through careful explanation, where it is?
This analogy, I suspect, will infuriate many of you, particularly if you consider yourself to be a traditionalist; It’s too crude. It suggests that traditionalist teaching is a tell-‘em-and-let-them-get-on-with-it approach, which it simply isn’t, despite what progressives might attempt to lead us to believe. And so, in an effort to be more accurate, here’s some better fridge-based analogies you might refer to when explaining the benefits of a traditionalist approach.
Crude Analogy v.1.1: The benefits of the Traditionalist Approach
If I’m hungry and I want to be fed, what’s going to nourish me quicker: Discovering where the fridge is of my own accord, or being told, through careful explanation, where it is, and then tested on the location of the fridge on a number of different of occasions, at specifically structured intervals, with the proviso that if at any point I err in mapping exactly where the fridge is, I am to be given prompts which, offer cognitive discomfort, and thereby help me to access the information I need from my long term memory to enable me to recall the exact location of the fridge in a range of contexts?
Crude Analogy V2: Knowledge before Skills.
Imagine you want me to build a fridge. You can pick a particular brand of fridge, such as the Cold-O-Rama 500 and ask me to take it apart. I can deconstruct it and look at all its component parts. This will inevitably ensure that I am likely to have the skills that would enable me to build a Cold-O-Rama 500. But, if I go into the real world and I’m asked to build a Snowbox 3000, I’ll be stuck. I only have the skills to build the Cold-O-Rama 500. If you really want me to build a fridge then tell me as much as you can about as many different types of fridge as is humanly possible in the time frame we have. Let me examine fridges in a range of different contexts. Show me big fridges and small fridges. Show me fridges with chiller cabinets and fridges with ice boxes. Show me fridges with the little white plastic bit for eggs. Show me lots of fridges. Instruct me how to take each of these fridges apart and tell me exactly how each goes back together. Then, and only then, ask me to build a fridge that keeps your crab paste at the requiste 8 degrees celcius.
Crude Anaogy V3: Instruction before Discovery.
You want me to build a fridge. You heard somewhere that people work well in groups. So, you put me in a group with 5 other people and you asked us to deconstruct and then reconstruct five different types of fridge. We take each fridge apart and then we attempt to put each of the fridges back together. It takes ages. Like, really long, but, we do it. On our own. Generally, it’s the overbearing people in the group that made most of the decisions about what goes where, but they sounded confident so we went with what they said. And now we have five working fridges. Okay, so one of them makes a loud buzzing sound everytime you open it and the Cold-O-Rama 500 has a handle that doesn’t quite fit. In fact, the Snowbox 3000 has a handle that is the same colour as the Cold-O-Rama 500, but ah well. They work. We had to chisel away at the inside of the Igloo Zx to make sure the shelves fit and the shelves in the iCool are a bit loose. But the fridges work, so who cares?