I have three children. One is a chemical engineer/scientist. One is a pediatrician. One is a teacher. I was thinking about their education the other day. I was remembering what their schooling was like.
When they were in school, all of my children completed worksheets. They all did workbooks. They all used textbooks. They all received direct instruction each day. They all had recess. They all had art, music, and physical education. They were taught science and social studies. They all did spelling. As they grew older, there were some computers in the classroom – not like today where every student has a computer in the classroom. They all had homework.
With that kind of education - how are my children, as adults, able to adjust to our changing world and to adjust to changes in their jobs? Some would have us believe that they will not be able to make it in our global and advanced world with any ingredient of this kind of education. I don’t know how my children learned to read and do math and science and to know about our world and maps… Yet, each of my children would be characterized as strong questioners and problem solvers. Where did that come from with the type of education they experienced? One might say the way we were taught has caused us to be bumbling idiots. I don’t know how any of us learned. We just cannot teach that way anymore. Throw every bit of it away. Is there not anything useful from those practices if used thoughtfully based on the needs of students?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad to make adjustments and changes in education. It is necessary and helpful to look at better ways to meet the needs of all students. As good teachers we continue to learn and grow in our profession. It is important to learn about practices that benefit children. What I question are extreme directives such as: NO more worksheets, NO workbooks, NO textbooks, No centers while a teacher works with small groups – only kids reading, we all do the same lesson, science & social studies are not needed until a child can read and do math, art & music are not necessary for all children…
What education practices do we need to completely throw away? What practices do we allow to continue? What do we change? Do all kids learn in the same way? Do we all need to do the same lessons? Someone like me might not to be trusted with trying to answer those questions for my classroom – we might have received an education from the old days where obviously kids could not possibly learn due to the type of instruction given. We could have solved all the problems of the world and turned out so differently if only we had not used worksheets!