Here’s a little self-test you can try out. If you get 100 %, you should share your expertise with everyone you know!
Mark only the statements you agree with. Then read the commentary that follows.
☐ 1. We learn what is taught.
☐ 2. Classrooms are good places to learn. Traditional classrooms are the best places to learn.
☐ 3. Education involves lesson plans, grades, curriculum materials, textbooks, assign- ments, group-paced activities, prerequisites, competition.
☐ 4. Knowing a subject well insures high grades.
☐ 5. High-school grades, college grades and scores on the SAT are good indicators of adult success as measured by satisfaction in life, leadership, self-acceptance, mention in Who’s Who.
☐ 6. A teacher is someone who knows.
☐ 7. Learning is logical. Learning is sequential.
☐ 8. More than one person can be taught the same thing at the same time.
☐ 9. Learning is gathering and storing information.
☐ 10. Lectures and textbooks are the best means of transmitting information.
☐ 11. Schools provide tools for school success.
☐ 12. Schools provide tools for life success.
Commentary on the School-Game Test
First off, if you’re good at test-taking, you will have figured out the “wanted” answers right away or certainly after a quick overview. The test-maker (yours truly) gives away his biases early on, and once you see that, you know exactly how to ace the test. In most tests, what you really think is beside the point. The game is to give the response the test-maker wants. The game is rigged.
All of the statements in the little “test” above are false. If you do think some of the statements are true, here’s some commentary in would be in your interest to think about.
1. What’s taught is NOT what is learned. We learn what we do.
Learning is growth and change.
When an organism changes, when it can do something it couldn’t do before, that is learning. Unless there is growth and change, nothing whatsoever has been learned.
In classrooms, we do learn to sit in rows or circles (or learn to rebel against this). We learn (or don’t learn) punctuality, submission to authority (or rebel against it), passivity, inattentiveness, self-doubt, fear, boredom. You can make your own list.
2. . . . good places to learn things . . .?
Margaret Meade wrote that her grandmother wanted her to have an education, so she kept her out of school.
Jane Goodall knew where to go for an education.
From the time you were born till now, how much of your learning actually occurred in school? Miracle of miracles, we all, D students included, somehow or other have learned billions of things – where the sun appears each dawn and how it feels, the feeling of love, how to walk on two legs, how to tie shoes, how to go to the toilet. And on and on. How much of the total can be traced to schooling? An infinitesimal speck. Even the “facts” have to be adjusted as we go along.
If learning to walk or to talk required schooling, most of us would still be in remedial classes.
If we are not interfered with, we learn effortlessly. To master a school subject, find out how you do learn. Then do it on purpose.
3. . . . lesson plans, grades, curriculum materials, textbooks . . . ?
Actually, there is NO connection between all that folderol and learning. In fact, all that huffing and puffing is counterproductive. The mind hates straitjackets and refuses to respond.
Regimented curricula make school subjects needlessly difficult.
4. Subject mastery equals high grades?
If two people know the subject well but only one knows the school game, guess who gets the higher grade.
Mastering the school game is the best preparation for any school subject.
Understanding, seeing, growing, changing are a joy. But grades are not awarded for them. Grading has its own rules and must never be confused with education.
The only thing grades show is skill at getting grades.
A student could get good at algebra or physics, but that facility is separate from getting grades. You already knew that!
5. Grades and life success?
Grades do reveal grade-getting skills, and SATs call for similar skills – all within the closed system.
Grades and tests have NO significance once we step off campus.
6. . . . someone who knows . . . /
A teacher is someone who knows how to learn and is willing to do it in public.
A teacher is someone who got there before you did. That person learns (practices the process) right out in front of everyone, warts and all, and then you can catch on. “So THAT’S how it’s done!”
What with the information explosion, it hopeless for a teacher to be a fact pusher.
7. . . . logical? . . .sequential . . . ?
Logic and sequence come AFTER we have learned something.
A part of the brain, the non-conscious part, is capable of making sense out of information that comes in haphazardly, any which way. Since there is no way to get in there and see how this works, institutions like schools act as if that kind of mental activity doesn’t exist. But that’s where the action is. Only a small part of figuring things out is conscious. We use language to nail down what we have already discovered.
When the conscious and non-conscious work together, schooling is actually fun.
8. Individuals in groups learn the same thing at the same time?
In any group, learning is going on constantly, but what’s learned is NEVER what a teacher has in mind. Not even one listener will be learning what the teacher thinks is being taught. That’s the biological nature of unique organisms.
Each brain contains a unique program that picks and chooses among available data and puts bits and pieces together in its own way.
9. , , , gathering and storing . . .
Google gathers and stores. Wikipedia does that. Libraries used to. Like squirrels, people who squirrel away lots and lots of facts – with very short shelf life – will soon forget 90 percent of them.
Information is learned when it is chewed and digested. We know it’s been a good meal when we have grown and changed.
Hardly any time in schools is spent on getting new ideas onto the nerve endings.
10. Lecturing is NOT teaching.
The mind cannot learn (process) while it is being talked at, and it can’t be fooled by stultifying prose. It simply turns off. It’s true that some lectures are beautiful and brilliant. Some may be awful but presented by poetic and brilliant people. I would go out of my way to hear either kind of speech. But the learning would have to take place afterward – by me. A student who tries to learn during a lecture will drive the speaker nuts. It’s bad etiquette to try to learn while being spoken to.
Lecturing and teaching are separate activities.
11. . . . tools for school success . . .?
School success depends on memorizing, taking tests, getting the gist of textbooks, doing assignments, taking classes .
If you want to play the school game intelligently, you need to get good at all those areas.
12. . . . life success . . . ?
There is NO relation between schooling and living a successful life.
The kid who manages his or her own paper route or has a lawn-mowing or housecleaning service or becomes absorbed in a meaningful hobby is far more likely to lead a fulfilling adult life than the competitive grade-getter.
Even sitting down to dinner with your family has more to do with a rich, full life than anything that happens in classrooms.