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The Dutch Mediated Learning Experience

Based on the professors Reuven Feuerstein, Pnina Klein, David Tzuriel and Carl Haywood

Mediated Learning in short
Whether pupils posses excellent, average or very limited talents to learn:
they will develop at best with a pedagogical – didactical approach which challenge them, calls upon different modalities and stimulates solving problems on their own. The teacher (=the mediator), plays a central role in this learning-process.
Today one thinks it is important to stimulate general “skills to think”, because of the fast and continual changes in the present society. Knowledge and information changes rapidly and for a pupil it is hardly possible to absorb, judge, digest and retain all new information. This is the reason why pupils should be equipped with skills that enable them to select relevant information, to argue about choices, to solve problems and the desire to be guided. Thus the focus will have to change from reproduction of information to learning skills who are basic to efficiently gathering and effectively applying of knowledge/skills, the so called “thinking skills”.

The question is, does education supply these needs sufficiently? Because usually no special attention is paid to stimulate these “skills to think”. After all, normally the starting point is taken that those skills develop spontaneously as a spin-of of school teaching. A hypothesis about back warded performances is that pupils have insufficient “skills to think” at their disposal which are necessary to collect efficacious knowledge. To acquire those skills the quality of the interaction between teacher and pupil is decisive. Only when there is real contact and the teacher takes the pupil as a starting point, join hem/her, steps can be made in the development of the pupil as well the teacher. Then we can speak of “Mediated Learning”. Mediated Learning pays attention to the cognitional and affectional development as well to the social-emotional development.

The teacher being the mediator in the process of learning
In this interaction-methodology the position of the teacher is situated “between” the pupil and the teaching package (this teaching package is more then just a book!!). The teacher activates the pupils’ own strategies to find the right solutions. In this way the teacher wants to activate the pupil (or group) in his or her own learning process. (This means that a prepared lesson can be totally different in each group!) By making the pupil active many problems concerning behavior and motivation will be prevented. The main issue of this methodology is not “to give” the pupil responsibility, but to leave the responsibility for learning with the pupil and “not take it away anymore”. The biggest “breakthrough” for the teacher in connection with Mediated Learning, is to overcome his/her own care-syndrome (not lecture/ but accompany) and to focus on the pupils’ development-education.

Promote the ability of learning
The vision of Mediated Learning starts with the conviction that each person has an unlimited learning ability and has a right to develop her/himself.
The learning ability starts at the very moment a pupil starts to understand and feel how and why he learns and in this way gets a cognitional tool at his disposal which teaches him to learn himself. In this way knowledge becomes a tool which also will be important outside and after school for the pupil’s development in all later life situations.
The learning of these tools requires an activating interaction and didactics, which incite to actively absorb and integrate the offered subjects.
Also a development-oriented pedagogic climate is essential.
Furthermore the method requires the dedication of the pupil’s environment to reach an optimum use of these cognitive tools.

Mediated Learning and activating interaction
Mediated learning is, because it addresses interaction and finding the “zone of proximal development”, very suitable to combine with all kind of different education concept as for instance: “Kag-al”, adaptive teaching, learning by experience, the new learning, learning the natural way, etc.. Mediated Learning is a way of interaction, it essentially is void and because of this it can be filled by the methods for which the school chooses.

Starting points for successful development and successful learning
Successful education has to meat the following standards:

Teachers have a positive expectation of the capabilities of the pupil: each person has the abilities to learn and further to develop.
Teachers work from the zone of proximal development from the pupil.
The responsibility for the process of development is as much as possible the students’. He himself takes the decision about the steps to be taken.
Teachers need insight in their own capabilities; this enables them to be responsible for the quality of the education and the accompaniment process
Working from the starting points of mediation and the quality of interaction.
Teachers have to be unambiguous in education and teaching styles.
All participants in the development of the pupil work together and have the same points of view (they form a system in which a pupil and his environment

Cognitive function pyramid
Emiel van Doorn believes that the cognitive functions are so important that we in supporting and guiding our young people should always be aware of his cognitive functions which controls the learner and what cognitive demands requires the assignment or task. It is important to verify that the cognitive functions and requirements match with the assignment or task. If not, we should repeat the cognitive functions rather than continue to explain the task/ assignment.