Friday, August 21, 2009

Why don't students like school? a book by Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist.

"Kids are naturally curious, but when it comes to school it seems like their minds are turned off." That's on the dust jacket. It reminds me of a presentation I made several years ago to the "Men's Business Breakfast Club".

I asked, "How many of you like learning something new?" and every hand went up.

Then I asked, "How many of you liked school?" and almost every hand went down.

This morning one of the dads was walking into school with his young daughter. She was skipping down the hall. He said to me, "Never before have I seen a child who was happy to go back to school after summer vacation." I smiled and said, "Yes, I know we're different."

Another dad, a third-year medical student, noted that a classmate wrote on her Facebook page, "Two words for today: yuck! and yeah! Yuck because school has started again; Yeah because I'll be done at the end of this year."

I've never met that med student. I wonder whether she is going into the wrong career, or whether she is crying out about how poorly schools fit students?

Another physician on another day, Dr. Montessori, a woman who went to medical school after deciding she did not want to become a teacher, took one of life's strange turns and dedicated her life to working with children. She approached the task the way a scientist would. After all, she was a scientist. She began by observing children, by finding out how they learn, and then began designing learning materials. This led to the creation of learning environments and the redefinition of the role of the adult. And when she was all done, the children rediscovered the joy in learning.

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