Let’s Address the Elephants in the (Class)Room.

Will Richardson’s article titled “9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should ‘Unsettle’ Us” is a very powerful read for future teachers and students alike. I think he makes some very good points that happen every day in school classrooms that are in desperate need of changing. There are three in particular that really catch my eye and I can relate to in my classroom experiences.

The first point that I can relate to in Richardson’s article is “we know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they ‘learn’ in school.” When the content is not applicable to students’ lives, why would they want to learn it? This is the sole reason that the content is quickly forgotten. I know I had many troubles, particularly in high school, remembering content. This was because I did not have a discipline of study like I  do now. I would go to each class only remembering bits and pieces of lectures I have gotten. This is one way I believe college has gotten the curriculum correct.

The second point that stuck out to me was the quote that stated, “we know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.” Many school teachers focus on basic skills and skills that can be easily assessed such as math, reading, English, or science. It is much harder for teachers to assess things such as “literacies, skills, and dispositions.” Knowing how to assess other than basic skills will further prepare students for the real world. Learning a test or memorizing facts will do us very little good in life.

The last point that stuck out to me was “we know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.”This is still mostly holds true for me today. To keep scholarships, to get discounts on car insurance, to get on the honor roll, whatever it may be, grades are important in schools. What we learn is not an actual key motivator for most educators because we teach to the test. There are very few classes and teachers out there today who mainly go for what students learn compared to just giving grades. I wish there were more.

Between appearing to learn what is on tests and actually learning, actual learning is definitely more important. When you actually learn, you learn life skills and things about the world that may help you. Just knowing a test could be helpful in possibly an entrance exam but not much past that. Actually learning material in schools is key to a successful life.

9 Elephants in the (Class)Room that Should “Unsettle” Us

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