How to make learn­ing more ef­fi­cient

The Amherst News - - OP-ED - Les­lie Childs Com­mu­nity Ed­i­to­rial Panel Les­lie Childs is a mem­ber of the Amherst News Com­mu­nity Ed­i­to­rial Panel.

Do you be­lieve that one size fits all? Are your pri­or­i­ties the same as your neigh­bours’?

How do you feel about tat­toos? Do you like brus­sel sprouts?

Two of my three kids loved brus­sel sprouts and would mi­crowave a huge bowl right af­ter school, top them with but­ter and sit down to en­joy. The third kid would freak out at the just the smell. That made for some in­ter­est­ing fam­ily dy­nam­ics, I’ll tell you.

In­creas­ingly, we are read­ing com­men­taries about how the math cur­ric­ula or read­ing pro­grams haven’t pro­duced the skills that their pro­mot­ers touted or that em­ploy­ers want and need. How can that be?

Ac­cord­ing to the re­search pre­sented, these new ap­proaches were sup­posed to meet ev­ery­one’s needs. Well, clearly, they didn’t.

The Con­fer­ence Board of Canada now re­ports 48 per cent of adult Cana­di­ans be­tween 18 and 65 are func­tion­ally il­lit­er­ate, not that they can­not read the words on the page but rather they can’t use the in­for­ma­tion they read to plan or make de­ci­sions about some pretty sim­ple things.

If you are about 40 to 45 to­day, you prob­a­bly learned how to read us­ing the whole lan­guage strate­gies. It’s not that that this ap­proach doesn’t work at all; it’s that it doesn’t work for ev­ery­one.

Why? Be­cause ev­ery­one learns dif­fer­ently. What works for five out of 10 learn­ers may not work for the other five.

Even more in­ter­est­ing is the fact that when it comes to func­tional nu­mer­acy, the num­bers are even more dis­cour­ag­ing. The Con­fer­ence Board of Canada re­ports that “55 per cent of Cana­dian adults have in­ad­e­quate nu­mer­acy skills - a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease from a decade ago.”

Learn­ing dif­fer­ences are not new. We all know peo­ple who like to learn by do­ing or writ­ing things out or even just lis­ten­ing.

There are at least seven learn­ing styles. Peo­ple usu­ally use a com­bi­na­tion of these when they learn.

1. Au­ral - sound and mu­sic

2. Ver­bal – speech, read­ing and writ­ing

3. Phys­i­cal - “hands-on” ap­proach

4. Visual - pictures and im­ages

5. Log­i­cal - rea­son­ing (tend to do well in math)

6. Soli­tary - self-paced study­ing

7. So­cial - like to learn in groups with oth­ers

The tra­di­tional style of class­room where the teacher stands at the front of the class­room to de­liver a les­son and ex­plain the topic works best for ver­bal learn­ers.

Those who process in­for­ma­tion bet­ter with other learn­ing styles may not get the full ben­e­fit of this kind of in­struc­tion.

Re­cently I’ve been read­ing about some­thing called “dif­fer­en­ti­ated learn­ing.” In this kind of set­ting, learn­ers work more in­de­pen­dently and have more con­trol over how they will go about “di­gest­ing” or in­ter­nal­iz­ing the learn­ing. So­cial learn­ers may work in groups while soli­tary learn­ers are best on their own with a work sheet. Phys­i­cal learn­ers may man­age math best with blocks and other tan­gi­ble ob­jects.

Mak­ing these kinds of changes in ba­sic ed­u­ca­tional meth­ods wouldn’t be easy. Cre­at­ing les­son plans for ev­ery learn­ing style cer­tainly isn’t pos­si­ble for one teacher with 30 stu­dents.

What­ever the an­swer, it’s about time that we all start think­ing and talk­ing about how we can make the learn­ing that takes place in our schools more ef­fec­tive for ev­ery­one. Then….. “just get ‘er done.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.