In response to Scott’s Daily Prompt, Teachable moment
I am not in the mood to write poetry tonight – or fiction. So this is just a ramble.
I have talked about this before in a previous prompt about teacher’s at school who made a difference. I think there is a method of teaching that works best (at least for me – but I think generally) but is rarely used.
At school we are taught that A + B equals C. We are taught that this happened. We are taught the rules to follow and that so and so did this then.
We are taught to remember these facts. Remember them long enough to pass a test. And then, for most of it, we never use that knowledge again and it is forgotten.
What I experienced very rarely was the teacher who taught us why. What this equals that. Why this has that effect. Why this word works better than that. And then you could extrapolate. They would teach you why and then ask you to work out the next step – which you could do now armed with the understanding of why.
In other words, they did not teach you to remember, they taught you to think! To work things out. Once you can do that, you can think for yourself and you never stop learning.
But while on the subject, I am growing more and more convinced that the whole school system is so out of date. This has been reinforced a few years ago now when we were looking for secondary schools for my eldest son.
We saw some horrors. For example, one school that lined up the kids and did uniform inspections, putting pupils that failed into immediate solitary!
When was the last time you had a job that required a uniform? When, in the few cases left where one is required, was the last time you saw someone disciplined for not having one?
This might seem a trivial point, talking about uniforms instead of curriculums etc, but I think it demonstrates the underlying problem.
We have a school system set that was set up in Victorian times. Its purpose was to churn out obedient employees to work as clerks in rigid office environments. And it still does that! It is trying to turn kids into adults fit for a world of work and a society that does now exist anymore.
And it’s worse than just that. They are largely teaching remembering, not thinking. Back in the Victorian days, maybe even up until relatively recently, that was enough. You just had to remember what you had been taught to do your job. And it worked.
But no longer. Now every job is ever-changing. Everyone’s career, in fact, everyone’s life has become lifelong learning! Skills are ever-shifting and you have to adapt.
Except, the kids are coming out of school not equipped to learn but to remember. I know – I was one of them. It took me years to work out, and then only because of the seeds from the one or two good teachers, that I could learn still. That I could think for myself and work things out. That I could do that without being taught by someone. I could find the knowledge myself.
And there is one last thing that really hammered it home to me.
Because of the pandemic, we have of course been doing a lot of homeschooling. This, in my eldest sons case, meant he was given the materials and framework of a lesson told what he was supposed to achieve – but of course did not have a teacher to ask or to watch over him.
If you think about how schools are set up, the very rules they run on, this surely should have failed.
My son coped well. He did not have to be told to work, he did it. But a strange thing happened.
Sometimes, he struggled with a problem or subject. Now at school, he would have to have persevered until the end of the lesson. He could have asked for help but if he had got that help (in large classes that’s not guaranteed), he would not really have remembered it as well, having not worked it out himself.
At home though, he took a different approach. One nobody taught him to do, but that he worked out for himself. One that I often use myself to great success.
He walked away from the problem. Nort for good – he is not Homer Simpson. What he did was switch to another lesson. Being unconfined by a timetable and having to be in a certain class at a certain time he could do this. And then, when he came back to the original lesson and came back to the problem he could handle it and it suddenly seemed simpler and he could solve it.
I have done exactly that many times. It has been proven to work. The theory being that you distract your conscious mind with something else and let the subconscious work it out – which it does much better.
Plus, you get that buzz from working it out yourself that ensures you remember it better than any number of repetitions.
This kind of learning approach is simply denied them at school by the structures in place there.
Surely, it is time for a complete rethink of the whole education system?