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Posts Tagged ‘student learning’

Overcoming Conventional Wisdom

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

TowerFor centuries, people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all times and surely he could not be wrong. All it would have taken was for one brave person to take two objects, one heavy and one light, and drop them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one stepped forward until nearly 2000 years after Aristotle’s death. In 1589, Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten-pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same time. But the power of belief in the conventional wisdom was so strong that the professors denied what they had seen. They continued to say Aristotle was right.

Considering the Best Measure for Quality Education

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach they way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

Eight Ideas for Summer Learning

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Using the summer months to expand and enhance your child’s skills for learning will benefit your child year round.  Some ideas to get you started might include the following:

  • Select safe, educational toys…such as those that need to be put together.
  • Play games—especially those that have educational value, like number games, guessing games, word games.
  • Encourage your child to do projects with other children.  He/she will learn to cooperate and his/her social skills will improve.
  • Take your child on the train, bus, streetcar or airplane.
  • Listen to your child…encourage him or her to ask questions, discuss ideas and tell stories.
  • Select activities that fit your child’s level of development, ones that he or she can learn from and enjoy.
  • And be sure to set a good example.  If you are interested in learning, your child probably will be, too.  For instance, set a family reading time or some other organized learning activity and share experiences.
  • Learning is a skill and like other skills it improves with practice…so give your child the practice he or she needs to develop learning skills!