I totally agree with Nicole who said that this week’s blog responses feel ‘messy’. I think that as teachers, we feel responsible to make sure that students ‘learn’ something in our classrooms. The challenge – is to find the best ways to do that.
As Jeremy Black said in a blog this week “Basic skills need to be taught, learned, and memorized in order for a child to then later work upon this base to develop specialized skills that are specific to their interests and set goals.”
I appreciate Danielle’s reference to the “google effect” on critical thinking.
The idea that schools are stifling creativity and affecting problem solving and critical thinking, is an interesting concept. The Ted talk referenced on Tuesday night where Ken Robinson talks about ‘killing creativity‘ is very funny and he makes some valid points. He goes so far as to say that ‘creativity is as important as literacy’. Teachers must search for that ‘balance’ between imparting information, encouraging students to develop their own critical thinking skills, and encouraging them to find their own ‘path’ to success (whatever that might look like).
What about the memorization piece? Are there benefits for our students? William Klemm (professor of neuroscience) certainly believes that there are. He says that memorized facts always stay with you, and that we need to be able to access what is in our working memory to think and solve problems. I believe there is some truth to this.
So, as you can see, I am very much of two minds on this topic. I highly value the opportunities and mind expanding aspects of technology. At the same time, I think it is necessary to put information into the brain for later use when needing to think critically and solve problems. I think it is important to encourage curiosity in students. I want to try to teach kids ‘how’ to think, not ‘what’ to think. (I like the video that Andrew posted as an example of this)
That said, I think memorization for it’s own sake can often be meaningless. Growing up, I learned mostly by memorization and often I had a lack of in-depth knowledge. Countless hours were spent with mnemonic memory aids. (…just googled that for correct spelling :). I would jam as much information into my brain as I could, spit it out on the test, and then maybe remember just a small portion of it. I didn’t feel like I had the time to go deeper into ‘understanding’. As a result – I always felt like I was cheating in a way and had the underlying feeling that I wasn’t really smart because I didn’t know the ‘stuff’ afterwards. I can’t remember who, but someone referred to a “false sense of confidence” in the debate on Tuesday night. It is only later in my life (for example – now…with this degree) that I am doing school ‘differently’. I am taking the time to dig deeper.
How’s that for ‘messy’ ? 🙂