In today’s education system there seems to be more and more of a push towards the memorization of facts, formulas, and procedures. While this can be helpful (yes, you must memorize your multiplication facts!) we are living in a different age. We now have access to almost any and every piece of information we need at our finger tips. If this is the case, what should teachers be turning their attention to? How should our children be spending their days?
As parents and educators, we need to make sure that we are not only preparing our children for the next grade, test, or stage of development, but also that we are preparing them for life—a meaningful and fulfilling life. Though skills and knowledge are important, we have witnessed firsthand that they continue to evolve from one generation to another. In order to truly serve our children, we must look toward long-term goals and think about the future citizens that we are collectively raising. We need to see to it that our children leave our homes and our schools with habits of heart and mind that transcend time and act as a means for digging deeper, solving problems, relating with others, and fulfilling their potential.
How is this achieved? By making learning memorable… What if we put as much time, money, and resources into making learning memorable, as we put into making sure children are memorizing? What if…?
We want our children to have positive associations with their school experiences. We want our children to be excited about what they will uncover, create, discuss, ponder, solve, read, and write about each day. We want our children leaving school with lingering questions, inspiring insights, and thoughtful reflections.
Some people might say this is impossible… that schools are riddled with too much of this or too little of that. But, maybe we should begin by asking what if? What if it is possible to make our children’s days matter? What would it look like? Where would we start? What are the little things we can do now? Where do we start?
Think about your most memorable experiences in school…
What really stood out for you? What made that experience so memorable?
Here are a few things I have witnessed that can move a child’s learning experience from that of memorization to memorable…
- Offer problems to be investigated rather than data to be absorbed.
- Provide mysteries to be solved rather than facts to be memorized.
- Equip children with inspiring tools and materials to be utilized rather than bubbles to be filled in.
- Engage in real-world situations and outdoor experiences rather than hoping they make the connection between what they learn in school and how to put it to use.
- Encourage children to take-in information and express what they have learned through a variety of mediums (100 languages) rather than solely through verbal and mathematical means.
- Share experiences that engage the senses, in which children touch, taste, hear, smell, and observe the subject at hand rather than one-dimensional, disjointed teaching materials.
I know first-hand that there are many teachers that create these types of learning experiences for their students, despite the mandates that are being handed down to them. I also know that some of our most brilliant teachers are leaving the classroom because their hands are tied and they can no longer do what is best for the children they spend their days with.
When we are able to make learning memorable, children (and teachers) come back for more, ask deeper questions, come up with solutions, and integrate their newfound knowledge into real world experiences. What more could we ask for?