#4. Choose the right question for the right rung.
This is a high-level abstraction of cities on a map:
I don’t think it’s easy to start so high up on the ladder and answer questions like:
- “Can you guess where they should put the new cell tower?” or
- “What information will be important to know here?” or
- “How should we represent that information?”
Guessing, it seems to me, is a task that is easier to perform at lower level of abstractions. (Like this one.) Meanwhile, it’s impossible for the student to consider the lower-level question, “What information will be important to know here?” when the important information has already been selected. (The relative locations of the cities.) It’s impossible to consider the question, “How should we represent it?” when the representation has already been selected. (A coordinate plane.)
Likewise, it’s impossible to ask a student to “Calculate the location of the new cell tower” when they’re looking at a low-level abstraction of the context. Calculation is a task that’s made possible by higher levels of abstraction.
Again, we find a limitation of print-based curricula. The authors choose to show a single level of abstraction of a context and then ask all their questions about it, whether or not they’re the right questions for that rung.