There are the stable subjects that we all need to know, the standard information that links all world principles together. Arithmetic, literacy, science, religion, they're all really handy for understanding the world we live in. The problem with education is that it can become stale quite quickly. Especially if the one who is teaching it is going over the same lesson plans they laminated thirty years ago. Not only this, the world is also changing all the time. The things we need to know above the basic level shifts with time. Those thirty year old lesson plans might not be much good when it comes to teaching methods and relevant information. Standardising the education system is good on one hand, it means that everyone learns the same things. The problem it causes is that it leaves little room for individual talent. This doesn't have a plan, we're all unique people. Here are some ideas for ensuring the standards don't become the restraints.
Work on self-chosen projects. Let the students do their own thing, using the information and materials given. Encourage research and self-learning in order to achieve the goal. When the student works on their own ideas, they feel more attached to and more involved with the process. If they're working in teams, individuals will gravitate towards their skill sets in the status quo. Perhaps they might need a bit of encouragement, however like electricity, when we're charged up we take the path of least resistance. Collaborative learning and decision making based on discovered information all help information to sink in.
No need to test, repetition and variation will work. Testing is stressful. It provides a negative association with the work and the learning environment. Fearful or worried students won't grow up to enjoy learning. They'll not achieve their full potential in life if they're not willing to continue learning into adulthood.
Put common sense first. Understanding the concept makes remembering the facts a lot easier. Memorising data and copying out of books might pass the test but it doesn't give the student a foundation of wisdom. Boil things down to the basic point more often and build up from there. Common sense is something that will apply in all areas of learning. Learning to learn and discern is a key skill for all of us.
It doesn't matter if you don't know. Sometimes a student will say something completely unique. They might want to do something or know something that you just can't deliver. It's okay to be in this position. Accepting it and undergoing the journey with the student can actually help them learn even more. Your example and response can become a template for how they behave when put on the spot.
Standards are guidelines, not laws. Of course the facts are the same no matter where in the world you are, but the way we look at them changes. The emotional relevance of the story changes, the human aspect is continually being redefined. Teachers have to accept that most people will have their own world view. Providing the facts may evoke an original response, it may require a path of non-curriculum discussion to go into detail. It's okay to wander off the track if it's going to help a student.
We are all teachers, whether or not we're paid. The way we work as social beings is through example and discussion. People usually love to learn new skills if it's fun or worthwhile. If you're in work or looking for it then new skills mean more opportunity. If you're quite happy, thank you, then other types of learning can give life more purpose. Look for teachers who see the human side over the process.
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