We had a chance to listen to what I can only describe as a rockstar teacher last night in class. If I could accomplish only one of the projects this year with my students that Zoe Branigan-Pipe did with hers, I would be happy.
However, something she said really upset me. It is not something I haven’t heard before and if you follow Twitter as I do, you will probably read this sentiment at least once a day. She said “If you can find the answers online, it is not a good test.” If I heard this as a high school or middle years teacher, I would probably agree. However I don’t teach at these levels and I don’t fully agree.
I agree with the sentiment that in this day and age, to be successful, adults need to be able to problem solve, to be given a set of circumstances and to be able to work through them. They need to “think outside the (computer) box,” as it were. I think that even in primary education, we need to start supporting, encouraging, and framing learning experiences (inquiry) where the children get the chance to try this kind of thinking in a safe environment.
However, in primary, I still believe that a lot of memorization (oh, the horror!) of some basic skills is essential. Knowing letter-sound combinations is essential. Knowing basic math facts is essential. Knowing the name of their city, province and country, and how to spell them is essential. These are all things you can look up on the computer and all things my students get tested on.
What differs from the time in the classroom when memorization was king is the way that we teach, students learn, and even the way we test. We play games, we talk, we share, we practice (although no longer with repetitive worksheets), but in the end, we still memorize. We need to.
Agree or disagree?