3 Education Myths—Part 1
There are many education myths that continue to get more press than they deserve. We thought a series debunking these ridiculous statements appropriate. Here are 3 Education Myths—Part 1:
Myth 1: Children don’t need to begin learning to read in Kindergarten.
I read something about Finnish children don’t begin learning to read in Kindergarten, and that they were happy. Well, I’m glad they’re happy, but in this world, and at this time, this statement about reading is such foolishness. I hate to assume, but will, that Finnish parents, like parents everywhere, that have the ability to help students learn, help them to read at home. I think that American parents, who can help introduce their children to reading are doing it at home even earlier, now, because of easy-to-use technology—with reading apps, videos, and even traditionally broadcast TV shows with interestingly likable characters. Add to that, parents worrying that their child might not get into the best university without early learning starts—especially in reading.
My major concern in this starting organized reading learning late statement is for those parents who can’t, for any number of reasons—such as language, time, economic standing—help their children to read without the pre-school and kindergarten reading beginnings necessary to do it. I’m happy the Finnish children are so happy, but learning to read as early as possible is important, and while some students can do it alone, and some do it with the help of parents, to disregard the earliest school chances for formal reading success is ridiculous. With so many students, at 3rd grade level and higher, still below reading proficient, what we need is more reading programs that work rather than fewer. We need to teach reading better rather than haphazardly. Let’s have all children happy, and at the same time happy readers, too. It does certainly equate to future happy adult success as well.
Myth 2: Classroom and Student technology is unnecessary.
There have been some ridiculous statements recently, where the suggestion is that use of technology by teachers in the classroom and with students is unnecessary. These are the sorts of comments that seem to get press and get passed along. Statements like that also keep us teaching in a front-of-the-classroom, last century way. There is absolutely no reason to keep students learning with last century tools, where there is no hope of engaging interest due to lack of individual and group student interaction.
This is not the time of memorization or filling in disconnected learning bubbles tests. This should be the time of a connection to and from teacher and student in a new learning environment. It should be a time of going beyond the daily essential question by doing a quick pre-lesson benchmark assessment each day to know where learning needs to begin. It should be the time of on-the-fly social media style questions and responses by teachers and all students throughout a class time. It should be a time of delivering a quick, but pre-planned assessment of what students know at the end of a class to understand if what was taught has been learned. It is a time of collecting all of that good data each day for every student. That makes it a time of knowing whether students are learning, whether a solution is working, and takes conferences about and involving students beyond story time to here’s what we know. Technology can do that today.
Myth 3: Homework is necessary.
Let’s burst this agonizingly persistent homework bubble quickly. Homework has never been, and will never be useful for anything other than filling the next day with lesson plans for correcting homework and assigning more. Oh, it’s also great at frustrating kids and parents to tears, too. Don’t buy the line that homework offers additional practice for concepts learned at school, either. By the time a student gets home from school, possibly with more homework from other concepts learned at school in 5 or more other disciplines, it is completely impossible for most kids to remember those new concepts well enough to be successful in out-of-context home assignments. Practice for new concepts should be at school, in context, during a lesson.
That said, and call it flipping if you’d like, having students view or participate something that is an enrichment activity at home is a good thing. I’d prefer not to call it homework. If we call it an enrichment activity or extended learning, then it should be interesting enough for most, if not all, students to become learning engaged. That sort of learning can be something students look forward to without dread. It can change tears to smiles. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to discuss that enrichment assignment at home, as well as the next day at school?
Editors Note: For more, please read Education Myths: Part 2 http://connectlearningtoday.com/education-myths-part-2/
About the Author:
Ken Royal is a former educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience. He has written at many of the major education publications, including District Administration, TechLearning, and Scholastic Administrator. Presently, Ken is a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is a Promethean storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.