first of all, i am LOVING reading all of your comments- i think we can each learn from each other, and you all have given out plenty of food for thought- so keep it coming!!
i just remembered a concept i learned that really resonated with me, and i am so sad that i can’t remember where i heard it in order to give them proper credit.
if you ask most adults- teachers or not- to tell you about their most amazing class they ever had, or the best lesson, or the most awesome teacher, pretty much everyone will tell you about a lesson in non-traditional learning.
the teacher who dresses like mother goose to read to the children.
the chemistry teacher who took them into the parking lot and blew stuff up and made rockets fly.
the foreign language teacher who brought menus and tablecloths and candlesticks and then had the students order from the menu in the language they are studying. often, there would be a native speaker or two invited to help facilitate chit chat at the table.
i will confess to dressing in late 1700s garb and having my all-girls american history class do a class on how to have tea, and proper etiquette, and appropriate dancing. we served food they would have had in the 1770s (which the girls made the night before from a period cookbook i brought in). to this day, when i see some of these former students, they will break into a large grin, and say, “thank you- i shall take no tea.” priceless.
in any case, the point is that we all know intellectually what inspires learning. there is a saying (by yeats?) that education is not filling a bucket; it is lighting a fire. wow. i LOVE that idea!
but you get lots of teachers fresh out of college (or not) who are used to being lectured. for four years (at least), they have been lectured to and they have taken notes. they have regurgitated the material at the appropriate time.
i’m not saying all teachers.
i’m not even sure if it is most teachers.
so please don’t be offended. if you think i am talking about you, rest assured that i am not.
these teachers are given x amount of material to cover. and let’s face it, in any class much of the time is taken up with maintaining order. but they must cover the material or else… so they rush to get through it, and the most expedient way is- you guessed it: lecture and give notes. give homework. do assignments from the book.
and at the end of the year, the teacher has indeed covered x, however the kids retained practically nothing.
they might have memorized and they might have spit back. but if there was nothing to catch their attention, and nothing to inspire them, they never really learned it. they never really took ownership over that information.
and even though they know that this is not the best way to reach kids, and even though the administrators know it and the parents know it and the students surely know it, there is a huge inertia to overcome.
so year after year we keep doing what doesn’t work.
and our kids are losing out.
and their teachers are losing their enthusiasm.
and students are not so much educated as processed through the system.
and the system is broken.
and this is part of the reason that this former teacher now homeschools.