In Principal Gladhand’s latest missive in the school newsletter, he talks about the highly successful principal’s coffee that was held earlier in the week. He lists the topics talked about at the coffee. Some of the topics stand out so I’ve highlighted them here with my usual irreverent but salient commentary:
“Our focus on students leading the learning- more activity and less teacher talk in the classrooms”
“The push for mastery, not memory”
Not much interpretation needed here. Apparently the less teachers talk, the more students learn. Part of the “teaching by telling” is bad philosophy that prevails in ed schools and beyond. Yes, even the mastery of facts and procedures must not depend on straight memorization. Such facts must also include “deep understanding”. I would imagine that the good principal may not cotton much to the findings of Helen Abadzi, a cognitive scientist from University of Texas who recently said: “People may not like methods like direct instruction – “repeat after me” – but they help students to remember over the long term. A class of children sitting and listening is viewed as a negative thing, yet lecturing is highly effective for brief periods.”
” Our students’ willingness to adopt the growth mindset and their understanding that learning requires being wrong sometimes”
This one again. Yes, a positive attitude is great and so is a willingness to make mistakes. But it must be accompanied by hard work which sometimes means the much maligned “worksheets”, exercises (aka “drill and kill”) and yes, even memorization. Dr. Abadzi again:
“It is important for parents, teachers and pupils to understand the benefits of practising to lay down the foundations for more complex tasks, Dr Abadzi said. “Those who practice the most forget the least over time,” she said. “So-called ‘overlearning’ protects from forgetting, because consolidation requires repetition – small bits learned at a time”.
I may send Principal Gladhand a note, suggesting he invite Dr. Abadzi to his next Principal’s Coffee. Stay tuned.