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Thursday, February 18, 2016

School 2016 returns to school B.C.?

   I recently had an opportunity to spend some time in a classroom of 1st graders and was pleased to see how far we have come in our methods to teach students.  Many of us have a memory of our school days as shown in the picture below.

   You may not have noticed the holes for bottles of ink in the desks shown above.  I remember desks with these ink wells.  Hard to imagine that they existed only 50 years ago.
     Passive learning with a teacher talking in front of 25 to 30 students was the norm.  The only active interaction a student had was when the teacher would call on you for an answer.  For me it led to being a student who often daydreamed.  Paying attention was a problem that many of us had.
    This form of education was surprising given that over 2000 years ago the philosopher Socrates developed a teaching model that emphasized the teachers asking questions of their students than giving out information.  Critical thinking rather than passively taking in information was stressed.  Where did we move so far from this model?

    What I saw last week was students interacted with each other to learn more than interacting with a teacher.  The role of the teacher was more of a facilitator than a lecturer.  Students moved from station to station frequently before boredom set in.  The transition seemed flawless as one station dealt with math and the next one would deal with reading.  I think this is especially importance for boys who may not advance as well as girls with passive learning.  Attention spans of today's digital kids will hopefully be recognized by schools moving forward.

    Leaning often took place by playing a game.

     The students interacted with different classmates regularly.  A student better at math would play a different role in that workstation than they might in a different station.  I saw better students directly helping a slower student.  Maybe learning from a fellow student is better than from an adult teacher.
     I don't want want to diminish the importance of the teacher in this new model.  They played an important role in the classroom but it was closer to the Socratic model than the old lecturing model.  The teacher's role was supplemented by a number of parent volunteers who worked with the students in the workstations where the teacher wasn't.  You could tell they had been trained to ask questions of the students rather than give our answers.
      This video has gone viral so you may have already seen it but if you haven't here is one Maryland crustacean's response to being someone's dinner.


edblisa said...

If you remember those days of desk sitting, you might also remember that there were always 1 (if not 2) recess times per day. Physical education was every day. Lunch was 1 hour with many students walking home to have lunch with their family. There wasn't as much sitting time as you may just remember being bored. So now, students only get 20-25 mins of recess per day, 30 mins for lunch, PE only 1 and 1/2 hrs per week, art & music each 1 hr per wk. So they get up and walk 10 steps to the next "station" so they are less bored AND less exercised?... but still not learning the basics as well as we did growing up? You can call me old fashioned, but I would call myself a disappointed HCPSS parent. I am not impressed by this teaching model though I don't believe it is the fault of the teachers.

duanestclair said...

I remember walking home for lunch and the recess times. There is probably no dispute that PE has been reduced in most schools for some other instruction time. Educational theories will always be controversial no matter what change you propose. I never underestimate how difficult it is to educate kids who have so many learning styles. I would suppose that having a variety of styles that channel learning opportunities in different ways maybe the best compromise.