In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few. 
- Zen Concept of Shoshin

Friday, January 7, 2011

Teaching People How to Learning #essential #reform

teach people how to learn. How to look at their past behavior, figure out what worked, and repeat it while admitting honestly what didn't and change it.

There are many things in education that people think need to be changed or *fixed* to improve student achievement. But, many of these people cannot agree on what should be changed or fixed and what really defines student achievement. The result is that schools add more and expect students to do more at a younger age than in the past to try and close our (perceived) achievement gap.

For decades there has been an educational debate between the emphasis on content verses the process of learning, and content focused policymakers seem to be winning. Unfortunately, I think because of this students are losing, because the art of teaching is being lost and replaced with classrooms, teachers, and students that are overburdened to perform instead of learn how to learn.

As schools try to do more and comply with the increasing requirements and demands placed upon them, they don't seem to be aggressively looking at ways to modernize the art of teaching and learning, much less make it a more efficient process. The demands of policymakers is forcing schools to become institutions of compliance. In theory, this is a good thing. A necessary thing. But, the cost of becoming institutions of compliance, schools and classrooms are not focusing on the process of learning. We call it learning, but in reality we focus on performance, which is what policymakers have defined for schools as measurable achievement. Because teachers need to cover more material that focuses on performance, we are losing the art of teaching.

The cost of our push for students to perform is that we have stopped teaching students the process of how to learn. By measuring what they know, we assume they must know how to learn. This is short-sighted, because this is not preparing our students for their future. A future where they will need to know “How to look at their past behavior, figure out what worked, and repeat it while admitting honestly what didn't and change it.” Without this our society and economy will not grow and prosper in a global market.

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