Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Do We Teach This Way - Part 2

In a short inservice at school today, we watched a very-well video put together by college students at Kansas State University. Essentially, the video argued that college students are multi-tasking high-level users of technology. Most of their learning is done on-line and little in actual classrooms that involve lectures and chalkboards. Yet lectures and chalkboards remain the primary way college students learn.

My kids in 7th grade are just six years away from higher education.

And that frightens me because in the middle school, educators are doing virtually nothing to change the ways students learn.

Students in elementary and middle school need to learn skills. Sure, there needs to be content, but they need to learn how to learn, how to tell truth from fiction, how to form opinions, how to learn how to do something new, how to find information, how to use the information they just found.

Yet they also need to learn how to work with others, how to negotiate, how to resolve conflicts, how to interact with others.

They need to learn how to become, at the risk of sounding all new-agey, who they can become.

Yet we teach them grammar, we read from textbooks, we learn integers. We split up our middle school day into eight periods, regulated by a bell.

We know how adolescents learn - at least we know a lot more than we did last year or 10 years ago.

Once again, why aren't we meeting their needs? Why aren't we restructuring how kids learn - not how we teach, but how kids learn?

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