We have previously argued that educators must play the role of both facilitating the learning process and filtering the acquired knowledge so that students not only learn but also know what they must remember. The expiration date of unfiltered knowledge will be determined by the date of the final test. The point made was that if students are asked to remember almost everything they learn, (an impossible task) they will respond by forgetting almost everything they learn. Clearly communicating to students which knowledge is of enduring value is the key to solving the ‘why our students know so little’ syndrome.
Renowned humorist Dave Barry reflects on his college experience and writes:
College is basically a bunch of rooms where you sit for roughly two thousand hours and try to memorize things… Basically, you learn two kinds of things in college:
Things you will need to know in later life (two hours). These include how to make collect telephone calls and get beer and crepe-paper stains out of your pajamas.
Things you will not need to know in later life (1,998 hours). These are the things you learn in classes whose names end in -ology, – - -osophy, -istry, -ics, and so on. The idea is, you memorize these things, then write them down in little exam books, then forget them…
After you’ve been in college for a year or so, you’re supposed to choose a major, which is the subject you intend to memorize and forget the most things about.
While Barry may be somewhat diminishing the value of a college education, he has hit upon an important issue that effects schooling at almost every level. Put simply we may ask: Why do our children learn so much and yet know so little?
Failure motivates. Well, to be more accurate, fear of failure motivates. We live in a society in which the Lombardi motto ‘winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing’ drives athletes towards excellence and has been often quoted, and subsequently adopted, in the business world as well. Coming in second is now viewed, in the words of comic Jerry Seinfeld, as being ‘the first loser’, making the thought of failure to win a distasteful, if not outright scary, prospect.
Race to the Top – An Education Reform Initiative Race to the Top, an education reform initiative founded in 2009 by President Barak Obama to prompt school improvement, is an option available to school administrators to not only improve the educational standards in their schools, but to help the school budget by financing them as […]