To learn content or learn how to learn

The cases from this week peaked my interest to the point where I ended up watching four and with this, I began to notice similar themes to the successful integration of technology in the Science and Mathematics classrooms. All of the classrooms I observed had teachers who were willing to commit a large amount of time, effort, and troubleshooting to allow their students to learn in a very different way than a classical lecture-style classroom.

As BC renovates its K-12 curriculum, the main complaint I hear from other teachers is the lack of staple skills and information being taught. Comparisons are continually being made about how Chinese schools teach core skills in Math and Science with less focus on problem solving, communication, critical thinking, and personal and social skills. In BC, the Core Competencies have become a main focus for educator professional development training while the curricular competencies receive little attention. I feel that these two schools of thought continue to be a battle ground as how to best prepare our students for their future lives, careers, and unforeseen challenges.

It is apparent in these case videos that these teachers who rely on technology are not, and for that matter do not pretend to be, the omnipotent knowledge-keepers ready to fill kids heads with new information. In the new information age that we are living in, knowledge has become easily accessible and therefore less valuable for students in their mindset. The teachers in the videos have begun to stop teaching content but rather to teach students how to learn, grow, adapt, and prosper in such a rapidly changing world. With this, comes the humility of these teachers to admit that they do not know how to solve every problem they encounter but instead can demonstrate how students can seek their own solutions.

I understand that these case videos taken out of the context of the entire course may not show some traditional skills which have been taught to these students. That is, before a student can use an Arduino to carefully control the temperature of growing crystals, they must have some basic skills. It is after these basic skills are gained that students can explore and develop the skills present in these core competencies using technology. I would be interested to see how these teachers progress through the semester with their students who may be used to traditional instructional techniques.

2 comments

  1. James

    I like the fact that you brought up “…taken out of the context of the entire course…” I am sure these videos are just a snapshot of what goes on in a mathematics and science classroom.

    I wonder if could elaborate on the “…lack of staple skills…” that students need. When I first started teaching high school, the grade 7 teachers from the feeder elementary chools meet with the grade 8 high school teachers to ask us what staple skills should the grade 7 students have before starting grade 8. We did this with all the core courses. In over twenty years…I’ve only seen this done once.

    A good next step might be to include academic research in your post.

    Christopher

    1. Hello Christopher,

      The “lack of staple skills” I tend to hear about from other teachers tend to be low level computation skills such as interest calculations (Math 10), the calculation of Voltage, Resistance, and Current (Science 9), and items such as Probability and Statistics (Math 12). These topics tend to fall on the chopping block when course time is chosen to be used in other ways.
      The meeting of grade 7 and grade 8 teachers to discuss the staple skills students will be using come high school sounds like a great use of time.

      James

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