Homeless Students


The image below is of neither a house nor a home.  Building materials serve as the foundation that is the very beginning of the structure that may become a home.

Recycled-Building-MaterialsIn a similar fashion, why do many educators think that simply teaching isolated facts or aggregations of data IS education?

You can’t do anything with facts and data unless they are glued together with the adhesiveness of meaning.

Students are ill served when they can answer short sighted multiple choice questions, but can’t make sense of the information found within those questions and answers.

We would all shudder to think of a child living on property where the material for a home were scattered about in pile after unattached pile.  That’s what we do, however, when we teach to a standardized test.  That’s what we do when we ask students to simply memorize facts without giving them time to reflect on how those facts might fit in relation to each other and other units or disciplines. That’s what happens when we don’t afford students choice in our lessons and activities.

Why doesn’t that make us shutter?

I was listening to Malcolm Gladwell a few days ago on the A.M. side of the radio dial.  He’s an interesting thinker and has crazy hair.  Both of these facts attract my attention. His little nuggets of wisdom keep it.

He was asked by host Dennis Prager, “You are a big picture thinker.  How do you connect the dots and create an unique view of how the world looks or works?”

Gladwell, “Most people are information rich, but theory poor.”

I stopped listening at that point (Danish Philosophy Sorren Kierkegaard once said that if you read his book and something meaningful occurs to you, drop the book and reflect).  Seriously, I turned the radio off.

Mr. Gladwell said in that one sentence everything that bothers me about modern education.

Please understand that this post isn’t a polemic against modern education.  Many things make me very happy about where we are in eduction, but our system isn’t perfect and so … some things about modern education really bother me.

At the top of that list?  We watch daily as intellectually homeless students walk by with building material in hand…not knowing how to build the home they will be moving into shortly.

One way to begin the home building project?  Release some power in your classroom to the students.  Another way?  Allow them to reflect on their own learning in class and then share (if they want).

This post, itself, is a reflect of a discussion Jessica D. and I had earlier today on the topic of reflection. Reflecting on our successes and failures are an integral part of strengthening the connections that we initially make when we learn or take action.

Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum and rarely happens if the lesson isn’t assimilated via reflection.

Have students reflect by blogging, tweeting, writing…anything! Help them build their houses of intellect.

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About Thrasymachus

2013 Northwest ISD teacher of the year, Humanities Texas 2012 Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, and 2011 Outstanding Educator of North Texas Award (North Central Texas College). I'm currently a Regional Digital Learning Consultant with the Education Service Center Region 11 in Ft. Worth, Texas and a college government educator who incorporates philosophy, technology & humor. A student through and through, I walk with my students in their learning. Most importantly, I'm blessed with the 3 most perfect kids eva! I love on them ery day!!!
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