Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Osborne, M. D. (1997). Balancing individual and group: A dilemma for the constructivist teacher. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 29, 183-196.

Osborne tells a story from her elementary school science teaching practice of a creative, imaginative boy (Cory) whose behavior is disruptive. His creativity adds to the group conversations about science, but his behavior often exceeds the tolerance of the teacher. Osborne's goal for the class is for students to explore science together and create meaning through group conversations. The individuality of the child and the child's ability to work within the group are both important in this class, and Osborne expresses the tension she feels in maintaining both facets of the classroom environment. In her story, she shows how the conversation flows when Cory is presentÑhe introduces insightful ideas that stimulate responses from the other studentsÑand why he must sometimes be removed from the classroomÑhis disruptive behavior often exceeds her tolerance and distracts the other students from the topic of the conversation. Without Cory involved in the conversation, however, the discussion falls flat. Osborne realizes that both componentsÑCory as his individualistic self and Cory as a member of the groupÑare important for him and for the class. She maintains that she must not resolve the tension because of the creative potential inherent in the conflicts between individual beliefs, desires, and actions and the behavioral norms of the classroom. She concludes that "Cory's individualism could not be allowed to run rampant, however, but neither could the norms of the group . . . be allowed to suppress him."

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