By: Connor Judson Garrett – June 7, 2016
You’ve heard it before – teach students to learn.
The implication is that it’s the educational equivalent of “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; teach him how to fish, he’ll eat forever.” The idea being that the student is empowered to learn anything. This is a simple concept. However, the current structure the educational system is at odds with this philosophy.
Students are constantly being told their performance on standardized testing is indicative of their work ethic and, maybe less verbalized, their intelligence as well. Students prepare for these tests, memorize the types of answers they’ll regurgitate, show up, and jot them down…without actually learning anything that will be useful beyond trivia.
As long as students can succeed on formulaic thinking alone they have no reason to adjust. In order to teach students how to think, a teacher must force them to adapt – the student has to start asking his or herself, “How did I learn this?” If they can get by recalling merely what they learned then the teacher is not a teacher, but rather, a standardized performance supervisor. That sounds like a robot, right? It might as well be.
As a student I loved multiple choice and short answers because it was easy, but again, that’s only useful for trivia. Get your students to explain, and make the time to show them in return why their answer isn’t necessarily just right or wrong.
Reward students for thinking – be an encourager and their passion for learning will grow exponentially. The problem with the US educational system is that we measure by test scores instead of student engagement and their love of learning. If we valued that above all else, the results will follow.