The Chinese favour a “chalk and talk” approach, whereas countries such as the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand have been moving away from this direct form of teaching to a more collaborative form of learning where students take greater control.
Given China’s success in international tests such as PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS, it seems we have been misguided in abandoning the traditional, teacher-directed method of learning where the teacher spends more time standing at the front of the class, directing learning and controlling classroom activities.
Read it and weep. . .
As schools across America let out for the summer, it is a good time to re-think what we are doing wrong in the American educational enterprise. The lies we have told ourselves and the tragedy we have heaped upon our children who bear the cost of our foolishness. . .
- The ways of the past have not served us well. Enthusiasm for discovery learning is not supported by research evidence, which broadly favors direct instruction. In other words, our experimentation with more innovative and experimental styles of teaching, including basing learning on children’s interests, giving them more control over what happened in the classroom and getting rid of memorizing times tables and doing mental arithmetic, has not helped our children learn but only wasted their time and ours on the foolish distractions of modernity.
- Instruction dealing with new information should not be explicit and direct. In other words, children sitting in rows of desks, listening to teachers, has been false derided as passive learning which should be replaced by active methods of instruction which involve the children and our aversion to memorization of facts actually hinders our children from recalling basic content and allowing them to integrate this into other areas of instruction and learning.
- Lavish praise is the key to effective learning. The psychological evidence is clear that there are no benefits for learning from trying to present information to learners in their preferred learning style. More than this, too much praise actually hinders their capacity to learn and even to think critically.
- Every child learns in his or her own way and at his or her own speed. Instead of consuming the precious time, energy and resources to individualize instruction to meet the supposed individual learning styles of every child in the classroom, it is more effective to employ more explicit teaching strategies and to spend additional time monitoring and intervening where necessary.
- More money will solve the problem. Unlike our American classrooms replete with the latest technology in new and fresh facilities, the Chinese classrooms use antiquated methods like chalk boards in cramped quarters and still their children outpace ours in the basic educational skills. Money is not the problem; wasted money is the problem.
- There is no room for failure in the classroom. Inflated grade systems and the press to pass children who have not mastered the basic skills of their grade have not helped anyone but have created a morass in which mediocrity rules and the whole educational endeavor seems to encourage telling our failing children that they are doing just fine.