Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Who is responsible for the students' learning?

Kids do not take responsibility for their learning.

At a national Social Psychologists Conference a group of researchers presented a study they'd done on learning mathematics in four different countries. It had been inspired by the results that U.S. students scored much worse than students in other countries.

The students in the other countries were studying, because THEY wanted to. American students reported studying because it was expected of them and to please their parents. American students used externally motivating reasons not internal.

Some of the established student trends of low grades, vandalism and disrespect is partially due to the fact that parents give students too many things. Parents do not teach students the experience of wanting something, saving up for it and the pleasure of finally getting it. Life for some students is so easy that they just coast through it, absorbing as little as possible, throwing away possessions, friendships and opportunities because they think there'll always be another one waiting around the corner.

Bored teens are setting fires to cars, fighting and doing drugs. I think kids who have to work to get what they have will value it more because of the planning and effort it took them to get it. This teaches respect for other people's possessions and achievements.

Who is responsible for the students' learning?

The true answer lies with whomever has the power to exert the most control over the variables associated with learning. This depends on the age of the student. The 13-18 year olds have increasing control over whether or not they learn and teachers
have decreasing control.

It has always been my education goal to empower students by teaching them
to take advantage of the controls they have over learning. Students must realise that this control exists and they need to create independence. This independence is real because of variables over which teachers have little or no control with adolescents.

I hold students accountable for their learning. Students have to do the work, to the best of their ability at that time, location and pace of my instruction.

I hold myself accountable for providing the means by which this learning occurs by teaching how to learn, by providing accessible instruction, by providing appropriate feedback and fair performance measurements.

Learning is obviously a partnership, but it is not in the student's interest to over-emphasize dependence on a teacher to learn. Witness the high school honour students who go fail miserably as college Freshmen because they cannot learn independently.

Contributed by a hard working teacher
Edited for blog posting

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