Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Life Relevance in Education

In an earlier post, I asked the question, "What IS education?" and the conclusions I reached were validated in a "Generations with Kevin Swanson" archived radio program I was listening to today.

I pointed out that my own experience (and most likely the experience of all reading this) was that the only things I actually "learned" were those things that I put into practice. The rest of it went in, bounced around for a while (usually long enough to take a test on it), and was other words, it was never really "learned." Just ask any high school or college student about a class they took a year ago and have since had no other exposure to the material...and you will find they don't remember more than a small smattering of what they supposedly "learned."

One of the points made on the radio program is that the style of learning we use in our school classrooms traces its roots back to the Greek system. In the Greek philosophy of education, knowledge was divorced from life; thus the famous sculpture of the Greek Thinker...sitting and pondering all day, but not actually doing anything with his knowledge.

The other point backs up what I was saying. The Hebraic model, which is arguably validated in the book of James, says that there must be life application to knowledge or it is useless. We must be doers of the Word! We can study it all day long, but if we don't do the Word, our faith is in vain. Obviously James is referring to how a Christian is to live out his faith. But the argument can be made that it applies to learning of any subject. If you don't actually use the knowledge, then it fades away and was basically not worth the time you spent "learning" it. For those who may be unfamiliar, there are several levels of learning. One of the highest is application. If one is to apply the knowledge, he must grasp its intricacies fairly well. Application sinks roots into the brain, causing the knowledge to be retained. It is only then that it is truly "learned."

Does anyone remember sitting in a classroom and asking themselves what use the course they were taking had? Do you remember being bored to death in that class? Do you NOT remember much at all from your time in that class? I think we can all relate to these questions.

So how about applying the answers to the teaching of your own children? When you are asking them to learn something, be sure you can articulate a relevant reason for learning it...and even more importantly, if at all possible, put it into immediate life application where it is actually used. When your child can see a reason for expending the effort required to learn something, not only is it far easier to remain motivated, but the material will actually be retained. And even better...because it is related to real life, your child's real life is improved!

Toward more reality in education!

No comments: