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.
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.