To educate a child takes a lot of patience, especially for the child
Posted August 22, 2012on:
My son enjoyed a break from school thanks to school closures due to PSLE oral exams and Hari Raya Puasa. But it does not take a five-day weekend to make my son go “Aww, school!” on the day that he has to return to it.
What is wrong with school? Here are his top three reasons: Homework, boring lessons, and not being allowed to pursue his interests.
Homework was one of last week’s #edchat topics: Is homework helpful and practical or just a carry over from a bygone culture of 19th & 20th century education?
I do not think that homework is bound to any particular time frame. Homework is a function of a dominant mindset or culture of a schooling system. With homework, the mindset is often rote-bound, practice-makes-perfect, or teaching to the test. I tell, you practice, you give back. Repeat.
There are certainly times to promote practice or mastery learning. But homework is not always implemented with these in mind. Instead, homework is sometimes a last resort when a teacher cannot finish something in class, because the teacher knows no other way, or because it has always featured in schooling.
Homework becomes a chore. Homework becomes a bore.
A few weeks ago, my son confided that he almost feel asleep in class. He had never done this before. When I asked him why, he told me that the teacher was boring.
I have said it before and I will say it again. Talking does not ensure anyone is listening. Teacher talk does not lead automatically to learning; it only gives the illusion of learning.
Some teachers compound the problem by giving students lots of homework because too much time is spent on teacher talk. “Homework” should actually be done in class so that the teacher can coach, differentiate instruction, or encourage peer learning. That is one reason why the flipped classroom is gaining attention.
Schooling is still largely a one-size-fits-all and industrial process. It is far easier to treat everyone the same and attempts to individualize instruction and learning are largely rhetoric.
Take my son’s recent enrichment art class organized by his school (it is called the Programme for Active Learning or PAL for short). He was told to shape Angry Birds with clay.
When my son mentioned that he wanted to make a square bird (influenced no doubt by Minecraft), he was told to make the bird round or triangular. So much for promoting choice and creativity!
I am reminded of the saying “It takes a village to educate a child”. I would not include the village idiots. Others would be wary of unsavory characters.
Sadly, a few teachers have fallen into these categories of late. More insidious is the teachers who simply keep teaching they way they were taught.
Today, the child can learn by finding information on his or her own and by relying on a few wise and even global villagers. But with schooling evolving so slowly, another saying is rising to the surface: “To educate a child takes a lot of patience, in particular for the child”.