In our conversation last week we talked about the fact that experiences matter. They matter from a decision making as well as a growth and maturity standpoint. What we see and where we go and who is in our lives shape the way we make decisions and therefore the way we behave. You see, it all circles back to the main point that behaviors are learned and therefore, educators must understand, learning is a behavior.
We will soon begin looking at the process of changing behaviors but before we do that we need to talk about learning and how learning is such a critical part of social, emotional, and behavioral growth. Learning is the process we go through of taking in information, placing value on that information, creating mental storage and retrieval processes for that information, and then, most importantly, learning what to do with that information. That last part, knowing what to do with the information, is the most critical piece yet it is the one that is getting left behind.
Teaching to the Test
When visiting with teachers from across the country I often hear how frustrated they are because of the constant drumbeat of teaching their students in preparation for testing. Now I am all for accountability based education and I do think that it matters that our students can demonstrate that they are learning. But, when our teachers are teaching to a test that means they are supplying the information, reinforcing that information for mental storage and retrieval, and then testing the ability to retrieve that information. The thing that testing cannot measure is whether the student is prepared to utilize this gained knowledge for personal and societal betterment. In other words, we are teaching our kids to test but are we teaching them to live? Are we teaching them how to take the critical information that school provides and better themselves as a person, as a citizen, as a friend, and someday as a member of this country’s workforce?
Instead of teaching to a test we must be able to step back and realize that we can give students incredible facts and truths and knowledge.
Teachers and students today have access to information at a much greater and deeper level than any generation before.
Thanks to incredible technology students can see and hear and be a part of teachings that range from the tiniest of observed material to the vastness of the universe.
But are they learning how to get along?
They are learning the beauty and complexity of mathematics.
But are they learning to make friends?
They can see the celestial wonder and beauty of the outer rim of our solar system.
But are they learning their place in society?
The Wholly Educated Child
Over the next couple of weeks we are going to begin talking about changing behaviors and how the classroom is the perfect place for that to occur. But here’s the rub. Schools and administrators and teachers must first come to an agreement that wholly educating a child is more important than making kids good testers. There must be an agreement that the use of the knowledge the school is imparting is just as important as the knowledge itself. There must be recognition that for a teacher to teach the classroom must be conducive to learning and that means that behaviors must be addressed.
A History of Greatness... A Future TDB
This nation is great because it has historically given its children unfettered access to an education that prepared them to be contributing and productive citizens. Now our kids are growing in a globalized society and people around the world are running to education to understand how to better their lives. In this country, our teachers and our administrators and our parents have to understand that our students must learn the rigors of academics but they must also learn the social and emotional stability of applying that learned knowledge in a competitive and global community. Our children must learn but not for the purpose of testing. They must learn for the purpose of living.
School is all about learning and we all must agree that learning is a behavior.