High School observation 10-3-07

“I’d like to go back to the idea of mistaking the tools of teaching for teaching itself. Here’s the problem: a real education is about getting students to choose to learn; our system is about using grades and test scores as incentives/punishments to manipulate students to learn. Grades and test scores aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But they are currently way overemphasized and are drowning out students’ ability to feel that learning is a choice, rather than a chore or obstacle.

“So we need to get students to be motivated by reasons other than grades. What does this have to do with teaching methods? I feel like it’s easy to use teaching methods to keep students engaged or ‘on task’ in some activity and then convince yourself that students are learning simply because you’re using ‘proper teaching method.’  I mean yeah, students are learning something by these methods; of course they are; humans learn from all of their experiences. They are learning that sitting quietly and doing what the teacher wants gets rewarded. And yeah, they are learning enough about science to pass a standardized test on it, probably enough to pass it in college, maybe even get a job within that field.

“But that’s not an education. An education gets people to ask ‘What does society need? How can I provide that?’ Our system of incentives/punishments gets people to ask ‘What do I need? How can society provide that?’ “


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