Learning Process Reversed

What is curious about the way science labs like dissecting a frog in biology class are usually conducted in the schools is that they try to reverse the natural learning process. The answers are provided before the student has asked the questions. At every level of school, students face this reversed process. They learn to write before they have the genuine desire to communicate in writing. They learn to read before they want to find out the information contained in books. They learn history before they try to analyze current political decisions. They learn economics before they ever try to run a business.

This reversed process delivers education through a prerequisite-driven scheme in which curriculum planners demand that students initially learn basic things they feel those students will likely need to know later to do more advanced things. But two problems arise from this scheme. First, predicting which basic things different students will need to pursue their different interests is almost impossible. Second, it is almost impossibly boring for a student to learn basics when these basics are divorced from the context of something the student really wants to do.

Imagine that you are an undergraduate considering majoring in history, which means that you may eventually need to do some quantitative research. Consider the plight of the math department trying to decide what to teach you. Can the department deliver in advance the math you really will need for your eventual research? To answer this, you need to first consider the fact that they probably do not know that you are a history major and certainly cannot be sure that you will remain one. Second, the math department faculty are mathematicians, not historians. Even if they knew where you were headed, they are not likely to know what kind of math that direction requires, much less how to teach it in an appropriate context.

The likely outcome is that you will be taught some standard form of statistics by the math department that you will forget in a year or two. If and when you actually do conduct your quantitative research, you will probably have to relearn those parts of the math lessons you've forgotten, but that you now need. You will learn them because you have developed your own need to know them.

The children who learn to read earliest are those who find things they actually want to read. A teacher's or parent's first job is to cause the child to want to read something, to motivate him to care, so that the natural order of learning can kick into action. The educator's job is to provide the one item which today's education system leaves out: motivation.

Next Story Problems with Traditional Classroom Biology

Outline Where am I in the content of the book?

Give Me An Example

Give Me Alternatives

What Is Next

What Led To This?

What Should Be Avoided?

What Can Be Done?

Give Me Details

Give Me Background

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