Sunday, July 03, 2011

listening to a teachable moment

I met the lovely new bride of a dear friend last night. Caitlin works as a teacher in Dallas, and recalling her last days of college, she and her classmates had been asked to recall their best and most memorable learning experience. Would it be any surprise to my regular readers that all of those experiences could best be described as "hands-on?" I'm not sure if the point was observed by anyone but Caitlin, but that was a teachable moment about learning.

The strategic implementation of the hands, its usefulness in devising more effective learning experiences, is a very simple, but revolutionary concept. We all learn best and to most lasting effect when we learn from experience, and the most certain way to guarantee experiential learning is to purposefully provide for the engagement of the hands. Even simple things like doodling, or objects like silly putty (suggested by Caitlin), can turn a conventional teaching experience into a learning one... a creative moment.

Knowing the value of the hands in learning, creates a clear role for the arts including music and for laboratory science and PE! Instead of discounting and marginalizing the arts, they should be promoted to the position of greatest importance within schools. That would eliminate the problem we currently face with students dropping out from high school and college.

We know that this strategy is inexplicable to some. There are a few knuckleheads in high places who may be hard to convince.  The situation we face may call for a sneak attack. Call it the surreptitious strategic implementation of the hands. In some cases it may be best that one hand not know what the other is up to, but it can make children smarter anyway, and contribute to growth of character at the same time. As Caitlin can tell you,  this strategy is not only for those not going to college!

Make, fix and create.

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