Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Are schools ready?
By Barbara Bray    September 1, 2008 -- 08:03 AM

Scott McLeod in his post Dangerously Irrelevant responded to Jeff Utecht’s post on preparing our students for the 21st century to be global citizens. Postman & Weingartner’s quote McLeod shared from Teaching as a Subversive Activity is as applicable now as it was in 1969:

What students do in the classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say) . . . Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly, they sit and listen to the teacher. . . . Mostly, they are required to remember. . . . It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used. . . . Here is the point: Once you have learned how to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know . . . [However,] what students are restricted to (solely and even vengefully) is the process of memorizing . . . somebody else’s answers to somebody else’s questions. It is staggering to consider the implications of this fact. The most important intellectual ability man has yet developed – the art and science of asking questions – is not taught in school! Moreover, it is not “taught” in the most devastating way possible: by arranging the environment so that significant question asking is not valued. It is doubtful if you can think of many schools that include question-asking, or methods of inquiry, as part of their curriculum.

Now that school is starting in the US, maybe some of our teachers will guide their students to question so they can learn how to learn on their own. Some students have told me that they do their best learning after school. They only do what the teacher asks them to do because they want to get good grades.

Categories: "Unlearn" "Engagement" "Authentic Learning" "Accountability" "Questions"

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