Saturday, July 6, 2013

Education: Teaching Toward Differences, Curiosity And Creativity

I recently stumbled across this talk by Sir Ken Robinson on The Centered School Library blog, and was really intrigued by a lot of what he is saying.

Especially the part on how if no two children are alike, even in the same family, how can we expect all children to learn in the same proscribed manner in today's rigid educational structure?  Every person that I know who had been a teacher before the "No Child Left Behind" restrictions went into place has told me that the difference between what they did before and what they did after was this:

-- before the rules, they were allowed to teach to their entire class, in all the ways each individual child needed to be taught and to make sure they learned the material, and were able to get creative in how they worked out different means of teaching the same information so that children who were missing it one way might pick it up via another method; the emphasis was on real understanding and not just memorization and then moving on to the next topic.

-- after the rules were implemented, they spent their days droning on about various test questions and how to answer them, having little to no time for creative writing, reading out loud, or any of the stimulating moments of intellectual spark that their kids had previously enjoyed -- for most of these teachers, the consensus was that the joy of learning had gone out of the classroom entirely; and fear of losing funding replaced opening children to the world of possibilities that learning something new can give them.

I find that so sad, for so many reasons.  That joy of learning carries through to adulthood if a kernel of it is placed just right with a child who needed just that spark.

Without it, how do you encourage a child to ask more questions, think critically and demand proof or, even more important, imagine a better way through the world for themselves and everyone around them?

This video asks a whole series of questions that we really ought to think about as parents and as a whole society, for the answers and their various spun out permutations of impact and long-term consequences have a profound impact on all our lives...not just now, but for generations to come.

Watch this video, and see if it doesn't spark some questions in your mind as well.  This is truly a conversation worth having in this country.

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