Learning Smart vs. not LO13614

Carol Johnson (carol_johnson@weains.com)
Thu, 15 May 1997 11:37:42 -0700

Replying to LO13581 --

Bill wrote:

>I'm not sure I'd label that as draconian; I recall having that in
>(public) school, and each of my kids has had that in public school, as
>well. I wouldn't necessarily label it as fun, but draconian had the
>connotation (to me) of "cruel and unusual", and I don't see that as
>particularly unusual.

Bill, I can understand and appreciate that this type of teaching tool
(memorization) did not seem "cruel" to you. You are also very correct
that the use of that tool is not unusual - unfortunately. The key, IMHO,
to your statement was when you said "to me". The trouble with relying on
memorization or similar "testable" methods is that not everyone's brain
works that way. Kids, like adults, learn best in context. To end one
subject and then switch gears to another, is difficult for anyone.
Learning needs to occur within an overall "learning environment." For
instance; my son (then 7 yrs) learned more about multiplication, division,
estimating, geometry, geography and biology when his 2nd grade class
teamed with 7th graders to plan, plot, plant and harvest a huge garden.
(Ask that kid to figure square footage and he can do it in a heart beat!)
He didn't memorize the process he applied the concepts to real life and
now understands how it works, and what it's used for. (As a bonus, he
understands and appreciates nutrition and found many vegetables he likes
that he would never eat before! :) The classes used the produce grown to
set up and run a stand at the farmers market - so, add in to that learning
experience money handling, barterring, customer relations, the list goes

I understand the "educator's need" to measure individual results. Devon
(my son) was given the chance to express what he learned from the
experience. He did so with written explanation (spelling, grammar and
punctuation counted) as well as an oral presentation to his teacher to
cover what might have been missed in his report. He was not only "graded"
on the content and delivery of these measurements but also on the number
of resources he used to create them. He could ask the 7th grade buddies
he made how to spell things, or for ideas on how to communicate the
project. This allowed the 7th graders to review and reinforce their
learning as well. He added his opinion about whether the garden was a
success or not as well.

I was much more impressed with this method of achieving and then testing
for learning than any of the math or spelling drills he has brought home.
It seems to me the methods explained above allow all learning styles an
equal opportunity to really "get it" and to have the learning stick. I
just wish this scenario was available when I was in school.

Sorry for the length of this one - I guess this hits a hot button for me!


Carol Johnson <carol_johnson@weains.com> WEA Insurance 45 Nob Hill Road Madison, WI 53713 Ph (608) 276-4000 ext. 423 Fax (608) 276-9119

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>