Our school curriculum has no lack of subjects and performance driven tasks and work. Our kids have weekly spelling tests, topical reviews, mid-year exams, end-year exams and a myriad of assignments that are given with the aim to drill and impart content knowledge into our children. Of course, we cannot deny the good intentions behind these tasks; however, we must also look at the long-term investment into a child’s learning.
He/she learns the spelling words for the week with the objective to score 10 out of 10 or revises for a test or examination with the goal to attain higher marks than the previous test. And of course, these are also important outcomes to keep in mind. (Because if a child is learning effectively, then it is also only fair that we expect him/her to achieve good scores, right?)
But,WAIT A MINUTE! We only focused on drilling and teaching the tasks (reading comprehension, problem sums, cloze passage, spelling….)And we may have just assumed the child will automatically possess the right skill sets to learn effectively and produce good results.
We ASSUME the child will automatically have good attention and focusing skills, they should have superb memory to remember everything they have learnt, and they also should be able to make connections about what they read and just grasp concepts like fish to the water.
If we just take a moment to ponder over this, it can seem pretty strange – we TEACH subjects and ASSUME the child to have the ability and skills to do it.
It is almost like us going to a new job and our superior tells us ‘Get this report done!’ and assumes we should know exactly how and what to do. Or a swimming coach telling the athlete ‘Go win an Olympic Gold Medal’ and assumes he has the right level of skills to achieve that.
In those situations, it might be more effective if the individual was equipped with the right skills before setting an expectation to achieve the end goal – the superior will give us guidelines on what needs to be included, where to get the information, etc and the swimming coach will work with the athlete on his breathing techniques, his strokes, his jump-off, etc.
In the same way, while we are drilling the child on the questions, we also need to make a long-term investment in their learning – to teach them effective learning skills to focus, to make connections, to retain information, to be careful in their work and to understand what is being taught.
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