Monday, July 11, 2016

objectively speaking?

An interesting blog post asks the question, "what if teachers refrained from laying out what the objective of a lesson might be? It has become a commonly held belief that teachers should clearly state their objectives regarding each lesson so that students would be better able to comply with what is expected of them. If the purpose of student participation in education is to get good grades, then knowing what the teacher expects sounds like a no-brainer, right?  To make this work, teacher objectives are often written on the board for each lesson, but the blog post asks whether it might be better to simply leave the students in the dark. The post lays out three reasons why declining to state teachers objectives at the start of the lesson might be a good idea.
  • The first is that laying out lesson objectives describes at the outset the teacher being in control of the outcome of each lesson.
  • Secondly, communicating objectives robs the lesson of the sense of discovery that comes as students progress through learning. It's like telling the end of the story before turning the first page of the book. If the student is informed of what the outcome must be, is there really any reason to pay further attention?
  • And third, laying out the objectives of the lesson in advance, keeps students from exploring tangential learning opportunities.  For instance, "If this, then what about that?" "Sorry, this lesson is not intended to go in that direction."
I add a fourth point. If you pay attention to the first principle of Educational Sloyd, that of starting with the interests of the child, you begin to understand that children actually  have learning objectives of their own, that are too often squelched within the traditional school environment. Do teachers ever imagine that students would have learning objectives of their very own? Are they given that much credit?

Can you imagine a school in which students are as interested and engaged as we would hope they might be, but in which they were expected to sublimate their own learning objectives to those their teachers dutifully write on the board each day, and without listening to what student interests might be? Good luck with that one.

Quite sadly and in many cases, student interests are squelched and marginalized. I am reminded of one of my former students who had bounced like a basketball between Clear Spring School and the local public school. He told me, "I hate learning." What I knew to be true was that he had learned to hate being taught. Outside of school, he loved learning to cook, and was busy in after school hours producing claymation video. The problem that kept my student bouncing back and forth between schools was not in the student, but in the institutions that made little allowance for the fact that the student would naturally have learning objectives of his own that could be nourished and brought forth.

Yesterday in the wood shop, I cut fret slots in a fret board, and  inlaid small maple dots where normally required between certain frets. I am almost done with yet another box guitar. Today I will continue working in fulfillment of my own objectives.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the likelihood of learning likewise.

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