Sunday, May 10, 2009

Howard Gardner Talking Sense

Here's Howard Gardner of Multiple Intelligences fame, saying some sensible stuff. This clip is really relevant to the way that Chad and I are teaching right now. Because we've left ourselves so little time for the unit we're teaching at the moment, we've really stripped it down and brought it back to basics. It's a science unit and the potential is there for overloading the kids with vast amounts of information and facts about solids, liquids and gases. Instead, we've made it much more about getting the students to pose genuine, simple questions about the matter and materials that surrounds them in their every day lives. It's great to hear someone like Gardner urging teachers to take that sort of approach more, rather than trying to deliver excessive amounts of information:

"I think that we teach way too many subjects and we cover way too much material and the end result is that students have a very superficial knowledge, as we often say, a mile wide and an inch deep. Then once they leave school, almost everything's been forgotten. And I think that school needs to change to have a few priorities and to really go into those priorities very deeply.

Let's take the area of science. I actually don't care if a child studies physics or biology or geology or astronomy before he goes to college. There's plenty of time to do that kind of detailed work. I think what's really important is to begin to learn to think scientifically. To understand what a hypothesis is. How to test it out and see whether it's working or not. If it's not working, how to revise your theory about things. That takes time. There's no way you can present that in a week or indeed even in a month. You have to learn about it from doing many different kinds of experiments, seeing when the results are like what you predicted, seeing when they're different, and so on.

But if you really focus on science in that kind of way by the time you go to college -- or, if you don't go to college, by the time you go to the workplace -- you'll know the difference between a statement that is simply a matter of opinion or prejudice and one for which there's solid evidence."

Great - we've been doing the right thing!

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