Sunday, September 18, 2011

More on learning

I added a new link to the right hand side: Dr Rick's blog from Sylvan Learning Center. The guy is a powerhouse of top ten lists. Give it a read, because why wouldn't you want to know why a book report is worth doing.

After reading that post I realized something. This next generation of students are task masters. They have to-do lists of everything: How to get into college, take tests, get good grades, activities that are fulfilling, etc.  But a to do list is just a statement of the tasks. It goes no deeper than that. The realization was that not only do kids need explanation for why something is important they also need context to understand its importance. This is a step beyond the task.

This understanding is normally called Learning. But, alas, this one step thinking (task mastering) permeates everything we do as a society. It is propagated by our politicians and our news media. It only goes so deep because "people wont understand if we get too complicated". But complicated is what everything is. We have to have higher expectations of our citizenry.

The book report post was an excellent example of how teachers and parents can measure the propensity of independent thinking in their classroom. A check on who is a taskmaster and who is a thinker. You have the chance to know how to reach a student even by that crude assessment. To discuss and question the topic at hand is crucial to learning, even to forming educated opinions. Seeking out a bunch of dissenting opinions and knowing where to do so is even more crucial as one advances in their learning. Organizing your thoughts coherently, using logic to bring them a step or two further. Then communicating that information in a way that is readily accessible to your audience. This last step is called writing. Bring your new found knowledge to the masses (journalism).

The book report post  though was filled with tasks! As good as it was, it was still a checklist (a well communicated and contextualized list). I am thankful it was directed at parents (and teachers in my opinion). [I don't have a solution to hypocrisy, as I recognize that my world is filled with it as well.]