Friday, April 11, 2014

Ask a Teacher

Here’s the funny thing about research in education: most of the fancy expensive studies that have been done come as no surprise to teachers in the classroom. I am not talking about the teachers who are there for a paycheck and summers off (of course they exist). I am talking about the teachers who find their life’s work in the education of kids (of whatever age).

Take, for example, the recent “groundbreaking” study that found that when parents helped kids with their homework too much, the kids got no benefit. Go figure. I could always tell when a parent helped a kid with their homework for two reasons: 1) the style and voice were nothing like the kid themselves, which was my job to know, and 2) the parents who did their kids’ work were the most upset when they got a bad grade.

But I digress.

The next “groundbreaking” study is on kindergartners and how we underestimate their number sense and should expect more. OF COURSE WE SHOULD. But in this country, instead of expecting more out of our kindergartners with regard to challenging content, we expect more out of them with regard to sitting still, filling in worksheets, and following rules. If we let our kids explore, play, experience numbers, and ask questions, we would be utterly astonished at what they can do. This particular study also points out that kids gain nothing from repeating what they already know.

Also not shocking.

Repeat, for those who are unfamiliar with my philosophies on education as I have been writing them for three years via this blog: there is nothing wrong with the children. The system is broken. The adults are broken. The society is broken. We know how kids of all ages learn and do best: through play, through exploration, through trial and error and failure. Why do we continue to give them a worksheet with one right answer? Why do we continue to sit them down for hours of mind-numbing lecture and regurgitation?

These studies perpetuate the myth that studies like these are actually necessary. Want to save time and money? Ask a teacher. They’ll tell you.
Image by Marco Belucci via Flickr

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