Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beyond Memorization: Give 21st Century Students Time to Understand

We can all agree that it is important for students to graduate from high school. However, what happens when “graduating” from high school does not necessarily represent an understanding of the basic skills needed in college and the workplace? According to the Sun-Sentinel, more than half of the students entering public colleges and universities in Florida need remedial classes in math, reading, and writing prior to starting their college classes. The problem is NOT the amount of money we are putting into our public schools; rather, the structure and curriculum of public education needs reform. Memorizing information for the FCAT or College Placement Test is not going to equip students with the skills needed for the 21st century.

Students need to learn to analyze, understand, and explain rather than memorize, recite, and regurgitate facts and information. A student cannot be expected to master division if he or she does not know what dividing numbers truly means. Subjects—particularly reading and math—need to be taught on a student’s individual timeframe. Learning should be measured against each student’s past markers of progress. We must enable students to learn at varying rates so they come to understand and analyze information in a way that is useful and accessible both to them personally and for the 21st century.

We must change our expectations about time and make conceptual understanding (not wrote repetition) our first priority.

For more information, please see "College Students Lack Math, Writing Skills: 55% Are Taking Remedial Classes After Entering Schools in Florida" by Scott Travis. Sun-Sentinel, March 1st, 2010.

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