Friday, April 11, 2014

Taking a Class on Thinking

I’m taking Think101X at EdX, on the Science of Everyday Thinking.

The part that has fascinated me the most wasn’t in the classes, but rather in the More Reading section at the end.

I found a section on John Hattie’s research about what helps students learn.

First, he found that class size, amount of teacher training, economic and cultural background of the students are NOT key factors.

The most important thing is for the teachers to find out what the students are learning, and spend more time and energy on what they still need to learn.  Students can teach each other.

As a teacher, I know that when I plan a lesson, I learn the material better than I knew it before I decided to teach it.  Students will have the same experience.

Second, teachers need to be able to control disruptions.

If students can be distracted from the lesson, they won’t learn the material.

I quit teaching in public schools because I don’t know how to stop disruptions. I need students who already want to learn what I’m teaching.  

I know the world can’t depend on motivated students.  All students can learn.  And as a society, we’ll all benefit if they do.

Third, and this seems to be major, teachers need to believe in the students.  This belief comes from success experiences with teaching, so that the teachers know that students of all backgrounds can learn.

Fourth, students need to learn how to learn.  They can learn anything, any time, if they know how to learn.  This skill is more important than the specific details of any lesson.

Here’s a summary of Hattie’s work:

If you want more, he’s got a whole book called Visual Learning.

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