Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's the Point?

My son recently took a science test over rocks and minerals.  He studied for an hour with me the night before and completed his study guide which consisted of two pages of fill in the blanks.  On his test he did a fabulous job of answering all of the multiple choice questions by circling each answer correctly.  I was really happy for him when he came home from school boasting that he got all the answers right!  

As an educator what would you give this student?  An A?  Well guess what?  He failed, yup he failed!  Why?  Because he didn’t write each letter on the line to the left of the question.  His teacher only gave him half of the points for each question.  

I was not a happy mom at that point and neither was my son a happy kid.  He met the learning objectives over rocks and minerals yet still failed.  What is this teaching my child?  It taught him that he has to do what his teacher says, exactly as she says it.  It taught him that school sucks.  It taught him "why bother"?  It teaches him that there is only one right way.  

Any educator in the 21st Century knows this is exactly the opposite of what we should be teaching our kids.  We must provide the opportunities for multiple solutions and a chance to explain their thinking.  We must think of Mastery in a new light.  It isn’t just getting the facts correct, which my son did, but allowing for broader ideas and multiple ways to share ideas.  

Science is one of the funnest subjects!  This is a kid who is addicted to Myth Busters.  I want his love of science to grow and flourish.  This experience for him is like ice on a tulip.  It just isn’t going to help a flower grow.  I wonder why a teacher would put herself in this power struggle.  Doesn't she have bigger fish to fry?  How about coming up with some experiments or a virtual field trip using the Smartboard she has in her room.  It just boggles the mind. 

A couple of thoughts about technology- had this teacher used some technology like a clicker response system this would not have been an issue.  In my Twitter circles of Master 21st Century Teachers, this would not have happened.  Sometimes I wonder, what year are some educators living in?

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