From: Louise Donahue <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Finding a pace for all students
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 12:53:00 +0100
Stephanie Wong wrote: > > I wouldn't mind if my class had no different activities, as long as the > material was taught quicker. > but some are just simply bored with what we're doing. > but I don't like the fact of dividing the students into > regular and advanced. > > Not many honor students wish to do extra work. All they want is to learn > things more quickly without all the review. > Honors programs, which are offered in high school, are not favored by some > because what universities look at is the final mark, not whether you're in a > special program or not. Some do not want to risk getting a lower mark. > ***************************************************************************** > > What do you think is better: many little assignments or a few large > assignments? lots of group work or more independent work? > > Work habits of the students should be put into consideration. Not only the > poor students leave things till the last minute. I prefer small assignments > and independent work. Hi again, Stephanie. What great input you have again! (And thanks to others, too, for some great ideas! I can see this is the "chat" group for me right now!) You hit the nail on the head, Stephanie, for the very reason we opted to homeschool. (I explained this to 2 others on this list, and don't know if that went to them personally, or if the group read it, so I won't elaborate. Can you let me know if that is the case?) My son learns very quickly, and it was very painful to try to "move with the class." His mind quickly jumped to "higher level thinking" in every subject--to the point that he actually forgot the original assignment. Instead of the teacher accepting that and using it to his advantage (too many children in the classroom, etc), her attempts to "dumb him down" -- or at best to make him conform to the rest of the class--only resulted in a label of "ADD" when he asked for clarification on the assignments. -- Even tho she knew his solutions were much more than what was expected from the assignments. He tried so hard to do "only what the other students did." He was extremely frustrated. This was 1st grade. Before he even got to 1st grade, his "reputation had preceeded him" and we were told that he would be "tested soon, and given appropriate instruction." When real problems began to get out of hand, we offered solutions to deaf ears that didn't want to "give up their control" and we tolerated outbursts of "please don't push your child so much..." What we wanted was that he be allowed to learn--not be pushed or held back. We changed schools mid-year, went to 2nd grade, began homeschooling 3rd grade. This is a much better option! In my studies at the U regarding this subject of "honors" students, there seems to be no easy answer--or any answer at all, for that matter. Whether to divide into "regular/honors" or not, etc. I think an ideal solution (but how practical?) would be to keep the class intact, and still allow individual learning--ALLOWING STUDENTS TO "GO AHEAD" without any restrictions. I think students themselves learn to pace themselves, they have "learning spurts" that should be allowed to develop unhindered, and also they have times when they need to go a little slower--which for some might be at the "average" or a little above. What we learned in homeschool, is just what you mentioned, Stephanie, about learning and doing at his own pace, and then allowing him to search, discover things on his own. I'm not totally in favor of the "unschooling" approach, but some aspects of this do make some sense. (Allowing the child to "teach himself") My son is getting an education FAR better than he could in schools, OR with private teachers. He has a thirst for knowledge--not only in science--that would be highly damaged--if not quashed--if he were to continue as he was! (Incedently that did happen to my oldest son.) You're right,too, about "not all honors students want to do extra work." As soon as "it is an assignment"--he gets turned off! Let alone to discover it himself, he goes way beyond any of my expectations! I have actually learned more from him, than he has from me! It is truly a very fun way to teach--AND to raise a child! My daughter went through the high school honors "catch 22" you mentioned--taking the risk of getting a lower grade in an honors course. In one particular course, there grew a great dissention among students and parents when the teacher had the class do an extremely challenging project, graded it critically, and all of our A-students (who were looking at college scholarships) received B and even some C's! Not good!! Regarding assignment size: I think there should be a mix of small and large. My son prefers to have me stack up all his assignments each day and then let him alone to finish them--which he does very quickly. I insist that he have breakfast at some point during the morning, which he grudgingly does. He does not want to take a break until all is done. You can see the impractibility of this, not to mention his self-imposed stress load. He and I discuss this, and have devised ways to solve it. One day a week is "independent day" where he chooses what he will do academically that day. He has a ball, is completely relaxed, I do my music and stay out of his hair, and he is so excited by what he learned that day, that he is bubbling over to tell me! (Often interrupts ME during my music to fill me in....occasionally inviting me to join him...this is truly learning!!) Even tho we are home schooling, I do feel some group work is important. We have a science club, book report club, and many other small group special interest "classes" for that reason. To try to be a little more realistic, we do some larger projects. He grumbles at first, and then immediately plans out its completion--time wise. He then really sinks his teeth into the project, and again--the outcome is far more than I anticipated. I generally have to tone him down a bit, or we wouldn't get to anything else for weeks! I guess the point in all this is that knowing about each student's learning styles is an absolute essential to teach effectively. I do realize the limitations that classroom teachers have, and I sympathize with them completely! (I tried it...) I hear the frustrations just in this group about the restrictions of having to conform to testing, etc. I don't have the answer: that is why I opted for a private music studio in my own teaching. Teaching one/one or small groups allows more opportunity to really getting to know the student and his/her learning style. So does having the same student year after year. I really see the benefit of that!