2+2 != Maths

February 18, 2012

Did I win or lose?

Filed under: teaching — Numbat @ 16:18
Tags: ,


Last year I had one particular class who just wouldn’t take to activity based learning. The Year 7 ICT course comprised quite a few activities designed to get the students to interact with each other and to pickup ICT concepts along the way. It required them to think and to participate and this particular group flatly refused to do either. Having 8 other classes all doing the same course I think I can safely say that it wasn’t necessarily the activites at fault (although I won’t discount that entirely).

The last few weeks was supposed to be Scratch programming. In particular programming up a few games in Scratch. I just couldn’t contemplate this particular group and that activity. They had been particularly uncooperative for a few weeks so I thought I’d give them an opportunity to experience the alternative – boring old lectures and research tasks. I thought to myself that one week of doing that and they’d be ready to go back to what I (and most other groups) considered the “fun” stuff.

Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. They took to the “boring” old work extremely well. They were co-operative, their behaviour was much improved and they actually produced some finished work. I thought to myself “I’ve finally managed to win!”.

Over the summer break I was able to think about this some more, however, and have come to the realisation that in all likelihood I failed. The reason they took to the “research tasks” is that it was “easy”, it required little thought and even less participation. They could do a few quick searches on the Internet and copy out some words off the screen, words that they probably didn’t even understand. It’s mindless stuff for you and I, but for these students it was what they wanted – perhaps it’s very ease and “comfort” was what they were after all along.

It seems that in the battle of wits between this class and I, they finally wore me down and achieved what they were after all along, a class where they didn’t actually have to do any learning.

What do others think?



1 Comment »

  1. Hey, students always teach their teacher, every seasoned educator knows this being the fact. 🙂

    Also, I am afraid that your conclusion is correct. Students got their busywork, got their grades, and were relatively happy. How much real learning happened – well, that is another story. But I like so very much the deep honesty of your story. It also highlights excellently why a new idea or gadget will never fix the education for us. Schools are slow to change, and students are not fond of jumping unnecessary hoops – they really do ask the question “What’s in it for me?” before they buy into something new. Making learning meaningful for students is the only solution I can see.

    Comment by Nina — February 19, 2012 @ 05:36 | Reply

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