Parents think school is the best place for a child to learn and to grow. People often believe traditional schooling is an effective way for a child to learn and grow. However, in recent times people have discovered traditional schooling may not be as effective as one believed. Colombo, Cullen and Lisle discuss in their book the pitfalls of formal classroom instruction. Formal classroom instruction may be useful for some students, but may be detrimental to others, especially in today’s technology driven society.
Chapter one of Rereading America discusses formal classroom instruction and how it may stifle natural intelligence and creativity.
â€¦on one level, Americans tend to see schooling as a valuable experience that unites us in a common culture and helps us bring out the best in ourselves; yet at the same time, we suspect that formal classroom instruction stifles creativity and chokes off natural intelligence and enthusiasm. (Colombo, Cullen and Lisle 6)
Often times in a classroom, especially in modern classrooms where there are many children to one instructor, children do not receive the best education to grow and learn. American schools in particular have students scoring below average in nationwide standardized tests. In fact, many researchers are citing the level of education children receive is below average. Why have American schools failed in teaching students to perform well and learn more?
Traditional schooling does not appear to work as well as people thought or hoped. Especially with subjects like science, kids have to receive several modes of learning in order to truly grasp and understand a topic or subject. Practical application of lessons, visual aids, and videos are great tools to incorporate in teaching. Students respond well when they feel engaged in a learning activity as Plummer and Small point out. “Children first participated in an anticipatory lesson… They next visited the planetarium, where they were engaged in a modular planetarium design program that mixed live interaction with video sequences. Finally, children applied what they learned as they engaged in activities in their classroom.” (Plummer and Small 407)
Having a range of learning activities offers students variety and offers instructors opportunities to engage with their students. Students that are actively learning learn more than those that are merely sitting and listening or writing down notes. If schools wish to get students to perform better and learn more, they must engage students in a multitude of ways. The new millennium offers many ways to get children interested in learning thanks to new technology and the internet.
Websites like YouTube, offer free educational videos at the click of a button. With schools giving anyone within the school free access to Wi-Fi, all an instructor needs is a projector and a laptop to show students a new side of learning. Aside from technological breakthroughs, there is also a call for reducing homework on students, especially younger students. “Technological tools have the power to help students sift through exponentially expanding informationâ€¦There is evidence that suggests homework is more effective for older students than for elementary students. Some researchers highlight the negative consequences of homework, including disruption of family time.” (Dean and Marzano 98-102)
Elementary students may not respond well to homework. Much like what was introduced in the Rereading America quote, children miss important family time and other opportunities at growing and developing when they have to do homework. While homework is important for older children and older children respond well to homework, it may not have the same effect on small children. This is not to say instructors should forgo completely the traditional aspect of homework giving, but to put more emphasis on classwork vs. homework.
Students, especially young students, may learn more in a structured environment dedicated to learning than at home where there are many distractions. Therefore, instead of going the traditional route, instructors could focus on better learning activities during school hours. Instructors have the time and they have the attention of students at this age. They can take them to field trips and show interesting movies and videos. They can flip or invert their approach to instruction.
Flipping approaches to instruction have yielded very positive results. “Scholars and practitioners have reported the positive outcomes of a flipped, or inverted, approach to instruction. Student reports suggest that the approach provided an engaging learning experience, was effective in helping students learn the content, and increased self-efficacy in their ability to learn independently” (Enfield 14) An example of a flipped approach is instead of giving homework, the “homework” that would have been traditionally given to the student for the home, could be done in school. The classroom then becomes a much more centered and focused area of learning.
Kids, especially younger kids seem to respond well to this kind of instruction. Education does not have to take many hours or occur in home environments. Kids can learn more in school than at home and can be engaged through various approaches. It is all about variety when it comes to learning and not following the traditional perspective of education.
The traditional perspective of education lacks. It lacks because it may be too simple and too narrow. It does not offer enough variety. Students demand and require interesting and new ways to learn. They require hands on approaches and access to technology and media. Utilizing the technology of today will not only offer instructors an often free source of learning, but makes things fun and engaging.
In an article by Kisiel, the author states a literature gap in instructor support when it comes to a modern approach to teaching like field trips and practical application. “Although there is extensive literature related to teacher/museum interactions within the context of the school field trip, there is limited research that examines other ways that such institutions might support classroom teachers.” (Kisiel 57) Teachers often have to put in extra effort to teach kids outside of traditional class instruction. This means a higher burden on classroom teachers on both a financial level and a creative level. Schools do very little to encourage out of the box thinking when it comes to teaching.
This is where traditional classroom instruction becomes detrimental. In essence, traditional learning is emphasized over anything else. Even when research clearly shows students respond better to varied modes of learning, people often do not carry what is observed as sound practice into school curriculums. There are so many things wrong with the way modern schools approach grading and homework that is carried from elementary level all the way to college level.
People assume that most learning can be done via one way. Although online learning has grown, it is not approached in a way that promotes learning and promotes growth. Students still have to turn in homework, sometimes things that are briefly covered and expected to turn in an A+ worthy assignment. This is not how the world works. Students especially in today’s day and age have other responsibilities other problems and focusing on homework is one they often do not do. How many kids, teens, and adults have failed their classes because of missed homework or low participation grades? This should not be the sole way teachers assess students.
FOD or Foundations of Learning is an approach seen at the preschool level that has had wonderful results in its implementation as seen from the excerpt of a recent article below:
Findings demonstrate that the FOL intervention improved teachers’ ability to address children’s behavior problems and to provide a positive emotional climate in their classrooms. Importantly, the FOL intervention also improved the number of minutes of instructional time, although the quality of teachers’ instruction was not improved. Finally, FOL benefited children’s observed behavior in classrooms, with lower levels of conflictual interactions and, at the trend level, higher levels of engagement in classrooms activities, relative to similar students randomly assigned to control classrooms. (Morris, Millenky and Raver 1020)
It is important that children feel good on an emotional level when it comes to learning. The article explains how when students felt engaged when students felt heard, they improved in their academic endeavors. This is true in many ways when it comes to older students and the world in general. One has to feel good in order to achieve more, to do more, to succeed.
Researchers and people in the educational community place such emphasis on logic and demonstrated effort. They do not take into consideration the emotional well-being of student and merely base their assessments on test scores and participation. While test scores and participation can be a great way to measure a student’s learning ability or work ethic as it applies to academics, it is not a great way to assess how to help a student improve or more importantly, how to enable personal growth.
Think of it this way, when a person is depressed, they lack the vigor, the energy to so anything. They feel hopeless, paralyzed and unable to help themselves. Many students feel depressed. It may be due to a turbulent home life or chronic illness, there are many reasons. Regardless, instruction should take into account a possibility for such feelings and find ways to improve a student’s mood and emotional disposition. This could turn a lazy, low scoring student into a successful, intelligent student.
What if teachers are removed from the learning experience? How would that affect a student’s performance? The results of a 2015 study covering English proficicency showed that for all levels concerning English proficiency, computer-based students were able to score significantly higher in open-ended tests covering the constructions in question “than the teacher-directed students. No significant differences were found between the computer based and teacher-directed students’ scores on multiple choice or fill-in-the- blank tests. The results indicate that computer-based instruction can be an effective method of teaching L2 grammar.” (Nutta 49) Although schools may not like to admit it, children can learn and learn well on their own.
Homeschooling for example, is a method of teaching that involves the student, maybe a parent or a tutor, and schoolwork done within the time the student wishes or has the time to work in. Many child actors, kids suffering from bullying and religious groups’ homeschool. In fact, it has become another normal method of educating besides traditional classrooms. As many notice and literature has noticed, homeschooled kids tend to perform better in SATs, learn more overall than traditionally taught students, and have higher levels of engagement in their studies. This could be because of the convenience of doing it in their own pace, or because they have dedicated one on one access to teachers.
The reality is, is that students, especially children can learn anywhere at any time. An article in 2015 discussed a charity that dropped handheld smart devices onto a village of an African tribe. The children from that tribe not only learned to read with the tablets, but also learned to hack the device and access the internet. They became literate and aware of the outside world all within six months or less. This shows the ability to learn does not have to be confined and limited to traditional schools and traditional classroom instruction.
Traditional classroom instruction limits children. Children are varied in their needs and learning abilities. Multiple intelligences and modes of learning exist and curriculum should exist to allow any child to learn regardless of their capacity to learn or intelligence. Musical intelligence for example is something that can be frequently neglected in schools. School when experiencing a low budget cut musical and art programs. However musical intelligence may play an integral role in a child’s learning experience.
Students that exhibit musical intelligence can remember melodies, show a strong sense of rhythm in speech and movement often hums or sings, improvises instrumental or vocal music. These things are an important aspect of assessment when it comes to a student’s learning capacity and talents. Knowing what to look for can be helpful in reaching more students in an efficient and practical way.
Efficiency is what most people want in education. That is why traditional classroom instruction is so often used in schools regardless of recent research and education trends. It is more efficient to teach a child one way then to teach children several ways. In order for students and instructors to benefit from new educational and instructional practices, models have to be implemented that are both efficient and less expensive than traditional methods.
Implementation can be tricky. Instructors are not the only ones that are responsible for change in the classroom. Principals can also be a vehicle for change and enable growth in education. “Our analysis suggests that, although the school principal is not a central actor in the instructional advice and information network in a majority of these schools, formally designated school leaders as a group do occupy central positions.” (Spillane and Kim 73) Everything works as a unit. From education to business, everything has its place and its function. Looking at the whole picture, everyone has a part to play when it comes to teaching and learning. If there is a chance for students to grow and develop on a level higher than expected, it needs everyone’s help in order for it to take form.
In conclusion traditional classroom instruction has been used for centuries to teach children and students. However, as times have changed, the need for teaching outside the box of tradition has increased. Students require options, diversity in curriculum, and even distance learning. Research has shown that changes away from traditional instruction have yielded positive results leading many to believe the modern approach is better than the traditional. Traditional classroom instruction has its place, but so do other methods.
Colombo, Gary, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Rereading America. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 2013. Print.
Dean, Ceri B, and Robert J. Marzano. Classroom Instruction That Works. Alexandria, Va.: ASCD, 2012. Print.
Enfield, Jacob. ‘Looking At the Impact of the Flipped Classroom Model of Instruction on Undergraduate Multimedia Students at CSUN’. TechTrends57.6 (2013): 14-27. Web.
Heacox, Diane. Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Pub., 2002. Print.
Kisiel, James. ‘Introducing Future Teachers to Science beyond the Classroom’. J Sci Teacher Educ 24.1 (2012): 67-91. Web. 1 Aug. 2015.
Morris, Pamela, Megan Millenky, and C. Raver. ‘Does A Preschool Social And Emotional Learning Intervention Pay Off For Classroom Instruction And Children’s Behavior And Academic Skills? Evidence from the Foundations of Learning Project’. Early Education & Development 24.7 (2013): 1020. Web. 1 Aug. 2015.
Nutta, Joyce. ‘Is Computer-Based Grammar Instruction As Effective As Teacher- Directed Grammar Instruction For Teaching L2 Structures?’. CALICO Journal16.1 (2013): 49-62. Web. 1 Aug. 2015.
Plummer, J.D., and K.J. Small. ‘Integrating Planetarium and Classroom Instruction to Engage Children In The Practices Of Science’. Ensuring Stem Literacy: A National Conference on STEM Education and Public Outreach 483 (2014): 407. Web. 1 Aug. 2015.
Spillane, James, and Chong Kim. ‘An Exploratory Analysis of Formal School Leaders’ Positioning In Instructional Advice and Information Networks In Elementary Schools’. American Journal of Education 119.1 (2012): 73. Web. 1 Aug. 2015.
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