What kind of questions do we ask?

I recall an 8th grade teacher of “careers” describing a job in a factory where a man simply reached up and guided engines hanging by chains from a converyor belt into the slot it was destined for. He said, “Those jobs are disappearing.”

56 years later, those jobs have indeed disappeared and our students will have to create their own solutions to problems and probably come up with even the problems. Yet in schools we still give the “right” answer and do not even ask students to tell us why it’s the right answer. We do not require students to solve problems as much as we should or could.

In fl classes, we have many books on task-based learning and other activities involving thinking, the so-called higher level thinking skills. In literature, in language, in history, in science, in art, we could have students set up goals and the tasks or objectives on the path to those goals and then figure out a way to achieve what they design. Libraries are filled with research on this and with how-to books for teachers.

But the crush of deadlines and testing make it difficult to set these lessons up. The worksheets and pre-fabricated tests make it possible to get through the day. Teachers get used to this and so do students. To me, if there is a dumbing down of ed, that’s where it is coming from, not from the abandonment of American values.

My old school district has a whole institution devoted to making up activity kits for science teachers. It got on the cover of Newsweek. Great stuff, but I always wondered why fl teachers didn’t have at least one person developing activities to further communication in the fl classroom.

We have to do all this on our own.

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