When we were in school, teachers drilled us on multiplication
tables. They asked us to spell words over and over again,
usually out loud and in front of the class. They quizzed us
on historical facts. We filled in the names of state capitals
on blank maps in geography class. Along the way, we memorized
a lot of facts and figures.
Pop quiz: is what was good for us in school more than
20 years ago just as good now for our children?
Absolutely. What was good for me is good for my child.
Maybe. Its important to know the basics, but times
Not necessarily. I want my children to think more critically
about the world around them and develop a love of learning
that lasts a lifetime.
Dont know. Try again later.
Which answer did you choose?
Learning new words and memorizing multiplication tables and
historical facts is important, but its not enough. We
want our students not only to be good spellers, we also want
them to understand what they read. We want students not only
to know how to add, subtract and multiply numbers, we want
them to understand more complex math concepts that will help
them later in life. We want students to not only know critical
historical dates, we also want them to know why these dates
and events are significant and how they shaped our country
and who we are today.
Research tells us that one of the best ways for children
to learn is by relating what is taught in the classroom to
what is happening in the real world. What children learn in
the classroom must have real meaning in their everyday lives.
They must understand why studying history or conducting a
science experiment or reading a book is important to their
lives outside the classroom. If not, the subject seems unimportant
to them and not worth the effort.
Using what students already know or what they have experienced
in their own lives is also a good way to help them make connections
to new material. Learning only improves as students share
new ideas with friends and classmates. These conversations
require children to clarify their thinking. They also learn
more from the person they are talking with because that person
shares what she knows and thinks about the topic. Relating
new classroom material to the real world, a childs own
experiences and sharing this learning with other people helps
the student understand new ideas, concepts or subjects.
Parent Maria Robles has two children who attend Canutillo
Elementary School in El Paso, Texas. She supports this approach
to learning. It tells me that kids are thinking, working
and discussing ideas. The students are working together and
not just sitting at a desk with a textbook by themselves.
My son has come home and said: Mom, I want to check
this out on the computer. I want to know more.
At Helen Ball Elementary School in El Paso, Texas, teachers
balance a back-to-basics approach with hands-on learning and
an emphasis on more challenging projects. This approach has
earned high marks from parents.
We hear parents say, I wish it was like this
when I went to school.
Principal Joyce Sarowski