Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Teachers can so easily fall into the mindset, "We must cover this material." There are so many pressures that create this kind of thinking. When the student sees that the teacher's main goal is to "cover the material" - sometimes with the added, "We're so far behind, we need to work hard to catch up," then the student automatically becomes defensive. How can the student protect herself or himself from this steamroller teacher who is going to "cover this material" no matter what obstacles may stand in the way? The lessons become rote drills, the test preparation becomes a cramming session. The joy of discovery, of sharing, of connection, is difficult to detect in such a classroom environment. Does this ever work? Do students ever learn the material so diligently "covered"? It must work, because if it did not, no one would even try it. This is also the explanation for spam emails, and for those telemarketing calls that interrupt your family supper with a solicitation for carpet cleaning or a discount at the local portrait photography studio. Of course the success percentage is low, and there is a trail of anger and annoyance left in the wake of such activities, but so what? It works. Or does it? Is there a "middle way"? We invite all teachers to share your thoughts on this topic.

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