Teaching Smart vs. not LO13748

Stever Robbins (stever@verstek.com)
Wed, 28 May 1997 10:25:33 -0400

Replying to LO13695 --

At 09:15 pm 5/21/97 PDT, you wrote:

>with authentic situations they can build whatever knowledge they need to
>have and also

>build the tools to tackle other problems.

This applies to highly motivated adults, too.

In our changes to the Harvard Business School curriculum, we included
modules on basic business math skills, business writing, and project
management. The three modules were all about specific skill development,
*not* general thinking ability.

All three modules got low ratings. Students found them a "waste of time,"
"irrelevant," etc. By and large, most of the students also did quite
poorly in them. Later in the year, they had projects which needed those
skills. Then, they came to us asking why we hadn't taught them!
Amazingly, they seemed to have developed amnesia for the entire

When we talked to them about it, the resounding feedback was: teaching in
the absence of a real context just doesn't hold their attention. So for
the next curriculum revision, it was a goal to integrate those modules
into the curriculum at the right time for them to be applicable to real
world problems.

[Alas, I left after the initial rollout, so I don't know what became of
revision 2.]

- Stever


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