To other voices crying in the wilderness of ignorance.
For many years I have advocated teaching students the skills indispensable
to learning and have done so in opposition to the anachronists who still
advocate the "sink or swim" philosophy in education. How humans
learn is a definable body of knowledge, which can be taught to students
as soon as they are able to learn. The position of much of education
today reminds me of an automobile manufacturer who has produced defective
cars. To not lose customers the manufacturer creates a process for correcting
or remediating the defects until the original process that resulted
in the defects itself is corrected. However, a wise manufacturer will
not make the latter process permanent.
The education system seems to have made remediation a main focus of
its time, energy, and finances and avoided correcting the causes that
result in the need for remediation. I have found that those most blind
to the connection between the skills for learning and the resultant
learning are the schools of education who are training our teachers.
These schools do a wonderful job on educational theory, teaching planning,
understanding research, and providing hands-on experience but many to
not even have a basic class on specific skills for assimilating knowledge.
I personally have had education department heads say to me that teachers
don't need that. I have seen several others eliminated existing credit
classes that teach skills for learning or demonstrated strong resistance
to proposals for creating such classes for credit. Therefore, how are
teachers supposed to know how to teach skills for learning when they
are not taught such in the schools of education? Sink or swim on.
Having run Supplemental Instruction (SI) and tutoring programs and taught
learning skills classes for many years has given me insight into the
enormous benefits of weaving in the skills for learning in with the
subject matter to be learned. Students who get this information experience
more effective and successful ways to learn and this is reflected in
higher grades, greater self-esteem, more self-confidence, and higher
graduation rates. However, while SI and tutoring programs are effective
and successful, they tend toward the correcting previous shortcomings
of the educational system.
What if all future teachers were required to take one or two classes
in teaching students how to learn? What if schools of education faculty
expected to see these strategies and skills woven in to homework, research
papers, lesson plans, and student teaching experiences? What if schools
incorporated how well teachers weave skills for learning into the subjects
they teach as a part of the evaluation and promotion system? I think
the education system would begin to correct the defects that produce
students with poor skills and strategies for learning.
I have taught many workshops to teachers on the skills for learning
and a nearly unanimous cry from them has been "Why haven't we been
taught this in college?" My response has been who will teach teachers
how to teach student how to learn? Schools of education? Sadly, my encounters
with faculty and administrators in schools of education has taught me
that there is little hope for change in this direction.
Until then, I and other learning skills professionals can take solace
in the fact that we teach what students have to learn to learn what
faculty has to teach.
Best wishes to all.......................
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