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A different approach to learning in school. Will it work?

17 Apr

I just got back from a community council meeting at my children’s school and I’m so excited to share with you all. Our school is exploring a new method of education delivery. They are looking at adopting an “inquiry approach” method . The guts of it is, that the focus is driven by the students, more group collaborations and more process learning. It was very exciting to hear about and I think you will all find it as interesting as i did, so I’ve linked up the video for you all to watch for yourselves. If you’ve got the time to watch, please do. It will at least make you say “hmm.”

It amazing when you think of all the changes that have occurred in the past 75 years and while I won’t say changes to education have not happened, the basic models and beliefs are still there. I really liked his point where he drew 2 ladders, one going up and one going down. The one going up he labelled education and therefore smarter, the one going down was labelled uneducated and therefore less smart. I have to admit that I have thought this way in the past. While I can see the amazing things people have done and the amazing things created by the “traditionally uneducated”, it still feels that society will still deem you less smart without the formal education. Ironically though, success seems to be independent of  education.

This new model of teaching almost sounds to me how I envision home schooling to be like. They are learning about whatever happens in their day, whatever they come accross in the moment, and this new Inquiry Approach, sounds alot like that. An example that was presented, was to imagine it is supposed to be social class, but the discussion with the class has led them down the path of history, then they are free to change paths and explore that subject.  Not get stuck on a class label so much, just exploring and teaching what the kids are interested in learning about.

Our principal gave an another example of how he had just learned the 9 times table today, with the way the “new” math curriculum that is being taught. It goes 9 (0+9=9), 18 ( 1+8=9), 27 (2+7=9), 36 (3+6=9) and so on and so on. He asked us how we had learned our multiplication tables. The majority of us said were given the chart and told to memorize it. There was no hidden meanings in the numbers, you just memorized it top to bottom and side to side. This discussion led someone to show how their kids were taught to use their fingers to figure it out. I’ll try to explain but teacher, I am not. Anyways, when doing 9 times whatever, lets use 4 for this example, place hands in front of you, drop down your fourth finger from the left (your ring finger) and whats left standing to the left is the first number and the number of fingers to the right, is your second number. So in this example, 3 to the left, and 6 to the right. 36. 9×4 IS 36. Genius!! Who knew there were so many ways to do multiplication.

I found a graphic that explains it all more clearly than i was able to using words. Unfortuately, the embed wouldn’t work for me so you’ll have to click here to quickly see it.

Im an old school learner. You read it, you memorize it, repeat. No fancy tricks. But think of what I could be have been, had I been taught this way of thinking!! My son is a learner much like me so our train of thoughts click. Not to say my son doesn’t respond well to what how he’s being taught, he’s just a no frills kind a kid. Give him a book and tell him to do the work. Done. Repetition  – he’s good. My daughter, on the other hand, will embrace these new methods. This is her learning style. Group discussion, collaboration, thinking outside the box, animated literacy, all of it. I can’t wait to watch how she learns and what she makes of all of this. If there is a trick or some fancy way of getting there, she’ll figure it out. Unfortunately, I’ll probably be thinking to myself, what the heck are you doing? Just memorize it and move on!!

I have a feeling I will learn so much more from these kids than I can ever imagine. But then again, that’s the whole point of it all, isnt it?

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2 Responses to “A different approach to learning in school. Will it work?”

  1. Tenille Lafontaine (@FeistyFrugal) April 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    You have my holding up my fingers to figure out this new approach. I don’t like change! I, like you, like the memorization model! It’s crazy how it all works out though.

    • myjampackedlife April 18, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

      I know, I hate the thought of sitting by and hoping things work out when my kids education is at stake, but if you watched the video, perhaps the classroom education is the only one piece to the puzzle. Dig you figure how to do it using your fingers? I wish they had tricks like that when I was a kid, then maybe I wouldn’t have had to memorize everything. It all about getting the same answer in different ways I guess.

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