Location: Halstead, Kansas, United States

This is my seventh year at Halstead which is also where I live with my wife and my soon to be two year old daughter.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A great comment from a former student

First, I can not say this often enough, I am so proud of my former students. I think many of them are going to be outstanding in their chosen career paths. In fact I believe that some them will make substantive changes to our world. It is my deepest hope that I had some small influence that might have helped them in their pursuit of greatness. To that accord I received a comment from a former student concerning the lack of understanding of history. She said:

I think the researchers hit on a very important fact, but it's not just limited to the field of history. I don't think people know how to learn. In all honesty, the things I remember from high school aren't study habits or the mechanisms for comprehending challenging information, but a few facts scattered about that I managed to lock away in my memory and then throw back out on the tests. Now that I am in college, I have had to spend time learning the process I have to go through to actually understand what is going on. This may go back to what you have always said about the education system and how it trains us for a factory setting. When, in that situation, would someone need to know the reasoning or logic behind what happens? There are three types of intelligent people, as anyone would tell you. Book smart, street smart, and both. I'm not saying that it is up to schools to teach people common sense, but it flies in the face of logic to give some people such a high recommendation over the rest when in reality they are just better at taking tests. Then again, students are by nature resistant to learning. So the root of the problem isn't necessarily in the way information is taught, but in the way students are taught to accept it.

Her post leads me to more questions:

Brittany says that schools teach knowledge instead of habits or the mechanisms for comprehending challenging information. I agree with her but I wonder if schools could teach the habits for comprehension that she speaks of without first teaching knowledge. Maybe it is better to teach knowledge at the secondary levels and then expect students at the college level to do something with that knowledge. Part of the issue could be the importance of tests which Brittany makes reference to but I also think that there are other issues. It is easier to teach knowledge and since their are few monetary incentives for teachers to innovate their units so why bother? Also, since their is pressure to get through certain material teachers have very few built in structures to help students if they fail on tests. Typically, if you do not get the information, then you simply move on to the next unit. Lastly, I am dying to know more about her last comment:

So the root of the problem isn't necessarily in the way information is taught, but in the way students are taught to accept it.

Any ideas?


Anonymous Hillary C. said...

Ok, when a student sees a goal in the near future, they attempt to achieve that goal and they expect to be praised for achieving that goal. Yes, there are three kinds of intelligent people but there are also many types of intelligent teachers. There are some who barely care about how their students learn and, there are some who's goal is to have their own knowledge seep into their students' minds. So another problem would be the techniques used by school officials to further push that knowledge and pass what they know to their students to better further their education. In my opinion, a teacher who doesn't care about their students, doesn't care about the world's future government and economy. That's why many teachers are sometimes persuaded to genuinely care about their students and how they do on tests and quizzes. A teacher who doesn't care about their students, is a teacher who lives in the present and doesn't think about what could possibly happen in the very near future. Some school officials don't realize that what they're teaching their students is what the students are going to learn and translate into the modern world. Unfortunately, some of those tactics aren't the best suited for the modern-day world.

10:35 PM  

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