Teaching Learning

Hill stated that we need to make education less “academic.” I agree, but I anticipate the same issues that Leila Christenbury experienced in Trailer 11. Hill states:

 the students I see in my senior classes are not noticeably more perceptive, competent, or literarily inclined than those in my freshman classes. By twelfth grade, the adventurous curiosity of old has hardened and withered into a mercenary cynicism. Paper topics and arguments are usually chokingly bland because students have learned that the best policy is to say something safe and noncontroversial or, worse, to try to tailor the paper to the teacher’s perceived taste.(67) Personally, I agree. Students are not challenged in school once they have mastered the routine of academia. Students are going through the motions and make little forward progress from freshman to senior year. Still, I am not suggesting that this is the fault of the students entirely, or of the teachers, either. Christenbury states that she had a number of very bright students in her classroom. In fact, they were the honors group. She is an experienced and proven teacher, so what’s the problem? With talented students and teachers and, what appears, an interesting and challenging unit, success should have been achievable. Yet, Christenbury implies that something prohibited them― and it wasn’t the snow. We focus on teaching ourselves, as teachers, the new methods that will make schools more effective. We must also acknowledge that the students will need an equal amount of time to learn this new methodology. Christenbury’s students were not ready for the extent of her change. They wanted better, but didn’t know how to achieve it; any teacher can predict what happens when students realize they don’t know how to do what is asked.   So, with the carrot of interesting technology (like the list in Beers, ch. 14), we attempt to teach students how to learn. If I were to revisit the question that Professor Stearns asked us on the first blog, this would be my answer: using books because I love them, I want to teach students how to be learners.  In one more comment on Hill, I would like to take his suggestion about more interdisciplinary classes to the next level; we should just get rid of “subjects.” General education should focus upon the connectedness of disciplines. Students will need to choose a specialty eventually, I suppose, but it’s much more important that they learn how to examine issues from a variety of perspectives. Like Gatto suggested, subjects prohibit creative and challenging thoughts.

Jillian

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One response to “Teaching Learning

  1. sofiapenna

    Jillian,

    I think your comments are very interesting. Thinking about your initial comments on Hill’s piece from the November EJ, I also agree that it is very easy for our students to master the routine of academia. I would also add that test taking and traditional assessments in the classroom are the cause of this, or at least a major cause. Students memorize useless information, regurgitate it out the next morning on a multiple choice exam, and then immediately forget everything.

    When repeated over four years of high school, this little system creates a senior class of students who are great at cramming, regurgitating, and forgetting information. This is the main skill they develop by the age of 17, which does nothing for their perception or competency as literate thinkers. In this latter department, they are still perceiving and conceptualizing like 14 year-olds. Would you agree?

    This is directly opposite of what the new world of creative, design-based technology will demand of these students in the adult workforce. Today, students must learn how to create and present, design and redesign, and synthesize pieces of data into one attractive package. Yikes, I don’t think we teach any of this.

    Sofia

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