Thread: Tough questions
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Old 12-23-2000, 01:41 PM
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JCE JCE is offline
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: So Kalifornia
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You have discovered the dilemma that most teachers run into. Do we teach the student how to think and how resolve the problem themselves, (while recognizing that this must be done while introducing them to subjects, ideas, and technologies they have never before seen), or do we teach them how to memorize the "correct" answer to each different problem to program into their brain and use forever. This last approach means that we have to gloss over the fact that there sometimes is no single "correct" answer, or that the wrong questions are being asked to resolve the problem, or that the problem is resolved only by doing 2 or more "correct" things.

Most teachers would rather teach the student how to find answers, but a large number of students would rather be told what they "need to know". The difference in philosophy between teacher and student causes conflicts, resentment, and interferes with learning. Attempts to explain the differences in approach cause the student to think he or she is being called stupid, and the teacher to feel that he/she is being called arrogant or unfeeling, and closed-minded about the students ideas (sometimes naive, often quite good, and occasionally brilliant!).

The attitude of wanting to be just told what they "need to do" was often most apparent in students who were not majoring in the subject being taught, but were taking it as a required course or elective. Their attitude seemed to be "I save my thinking for my career field, and don't have enough time in my busy life to learn how to think about a temporary problem in this secondary part of my life. I just want the problem solved so I can get back to my work, so tell me what pill to take, Doc, and make the problem go away".

I never found a perfect balance that worked with every student. They were all different, and for every student that caused frustration, there was one that gave me great pride in the results obtained. I don't think anyone has ever found the answer, or if they have, I haven't seen it shared. I think all we can do (we are all simultaneously teachers and students throughout our life) is recognize that different approaches may or may not work with different people.

Sorry for the rant, have a great holiday.

[Edited by JCE on 12-23-2000 at 12:51 PM]

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