Monday, December 22, 2014

Do we sometimes confuse learning with remembering?

I think that we sometimes confuse learning with remembering. I also say that we take that remembering and assess and grade it in a way that those students who are good at remembering do well and those who are not struggle.

I am not a good rememberer. I never have been. I write appointments down. I try to go to the store with a list, but, more than once a month, I'm that guy who sheepishly walks back into the store met by the obligatory comment of the checker," forgot something, huh?" (Of course, I did!) Remembering is not what we should be focusing on in school. Learning should be our aim and we should take deliberate steps towards improving the quality of the process of learning.

Where I see the main issue is we have been taught to remember for so long and we, as teachers, have stereotypically taught our students to remember for so long, we do not focus on the individual process of learning.

"What are you kids doing?"
"They are learning about puppies."
"How are they learning about puppies?"
"They read about puppies and now are doing a puppy worksheet."
"So, how are you going to know if they learned about puppies?"
"After the worksheet, I'm going to give them a test about puppies."

So, what do students need to have done to score well on the puppy test? Remembered what they read.

Instead, can we focus on the process of learning (Mr. Barner, that's the third time you said "process of learning.")

I know.

That processes do students need to practice to learn better?

1. Judging the quality of information.
2. Seeing failure as apart of the learning process.
3. Not being satisfied with being "done."
4. Seeing the connections between learnings.

Now, I just want to take a minute to talk about the last point. I see students in my classroom not understanding the connection between learnings they do in different classes. How can we as teachers show students that the learning they do in Math can improve the way they learn Science or History or Language Arts or, heaven forbid, Music?

More questions than answers, but a place to start my thinking.

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged,

Dane Barner

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