Friday, August 3, 2012

'Deeper Learning' Missing From School

This seems to me to come a bit from the Department of Duh, but I guess it may take people a little while longer to catch on.

"While students have to master core subjects, unless they also excel in areas such as problem solving, critical thinking and communication, their education won’t necessarily prepare them for the modern world – that’s the conclusion reached by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences."

(you can read the full report here)

In a nutshell, memorizing the multiplication tables helps you pass a test, but if you can't figure out which groceries to buy to stay within a household budget when you are older, your education hasn't done much for you. Overly simplified example, but you get the idea.

This is old news, older than this most recent "crisis" in education and moving far beyond the Common Core nonsense and political debates over NCLB and RttT. Kids in school cannot apply what they know, cannot transfer what they have learned and don't know how to use what knowledge, when.

Suggestions to fix this include the following:

"Curricula and instructional programs should be designed with a focus on clear learning goals along with assessments to measure students’ progress toward and attainment of the goals...These programs should feature research-based teaching methods such as using multiple and varied representations of concepts, encouraging elaboration and questioning, engaging learners in challenging tasks while also providing guidance and feedback, teaching with examples and cases, connecting topics to students’ lives and interests, and using assessments that monitor students’ progress and provide feedback for adjusting teaching and learning strategies."

Yup, we do this, and it shows not just in our process and products, but also in our test scores; last year's average on a nationally-normed standardized test was 97%, and this without a single minute of test prep. Teaching and learning this way is revelatory, and I wish more schools would understand how joyful it can be! Maybe if they knew how much fun it was to dive deeply into something and to discuss and fail and try again and engage actively with students then there would be less talk about test and more about how to get all kids to this place of active, purposeful learning.

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