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By Ronald S. Brandt

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Powerful Learning 26 4. People learn well when they can learn in their own way and have some degree of choice and control. We have considerable evidence that students learn better when they use their preferred styles and special abilities. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is one way of thinking about student differences that has attracted the attention of many educators in recent years. Thomas Hatch (1997) offers this advice based on research at Harvard’s Project Zero, where he worked with Gardner.

Despite their apparent familiarity, constructivism and prior knowledge are sophisticated concepts, so this brief discussion must necessarily be simplistic. I will just note that the learner must do the constructing, based on the learner’s prior knowledge. All the educator can do is set things up to encourage that to happen. Heckman, Confer, and Hakim (1994), whose story about pumpkins I used to illustrate feedback, told another story showing that sometimes teachers underestimate students’ prior knowledge.

We said—and we meant it—that we are co-workers and co-learners and co-doers. And I think that is why the district is where it is today. (pp. 24–25) Powerful Learning 42 Mamary finally began talking about curriculum alignment and standards. I was relieved. “Now we’re getting to the techniques of outcome-based education,” I said. “Yes,” he quickly replied, “but none of them makes a difference unless you have the right environment” (p. 25). Powerful Learning in Schools 43 10. People learn well when the learning environment supports the intended learning.

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