I helped you, now help yourself.
A recent study by Monash University (2005) has found students from public schools outperform those from private schools when they reach university; students simply could not adapt to the independent learning style and, after years of spoon-fed instruction, left because university made them feel incompetent. Coady and Bloch discussed the claim that an established set of rules and procedures relating to professional ethics, can lead to a lack of thinking by individuals and the inability to self-medicate or self-educate (1996, p. 4); this links back to a classroom that does not promote student-centred learning.
Depending upon their upbringing, students are always at risk of becoming too reliant on their teachers, parents or caregivers to provide, and tend to their every need. I went to a private school, and I’m currently teaching at one. The issue of housing and rent prices in Australia has led to a longer stay-at-home age for young people, and many are simply not saving enough for the future. A famous Chinese proverb states “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for the day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Essentially, too many kids aren’t prepared to go out into the real world due to being ‘babied’ throughout their schooling. It is not a problem, nor uncommon for me to provide students with the necessary means to engage in that class, I still want them to attend after all.
For instance, this past week I had asked year eight to bring a compass to class, roughly half managed to remember to do this, a part of me wanted to punish them for not remembering, but then I would have half the class not participating in an important discovery activity in hexagons. Fortunately (or is it unfortunately? Not sure on that one), I had remembered to bring a dozen compasses to share around in anticipation of this event. So did the girls who didn’t bring it actually learn anything, other than their mistakes (or laziness) means nothing?
Worse still, I asked year 11 to print out a document and bring it the following lesson. Of the 19 students, two managed to do this. So, disappointed by this, I decided to award merits to the girls who did remember. While I provided this positive response, it wasn’t exactly the most difficult of instructions and probably wasn’t really worthy of a special award.
NSW Teaching Element 2.1.4 states “Teachers demonstrate knowledge and understanding of students’ skills, interests and prior achievements and their impact on learning.” One interpretation of this is to recognise the students’ ability to engage in independent thinking and learning, and promote it (Lefrancois, 1982). I chose to do this when awarding the merits to the year eleven’s. On the same note, I chose to encourage little thinking (or none), to year eight by providing them with the means to partake in the lesson anyway. Students need to act, learn to cope with issues independently, be it successfully or unsuccessfully, in place of the easy ‘outs’ that teachers often provide.
Coady, M., & Bloch, S. (1996). Code of Ethics and the professions. Melbourne: Melbourne Press.
Lefrancois, G. R. (1982). Psychology for Teaching (4th ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth.
Monash University. (2005, April 6). Public school students perform well at university. Retrieved August 14, 2010, from Monash University: http://www.monash.edu.au/news/newsline/story/350
NSW Institute of Teachers. (2010). Professional Teaching Standards. Sydney. NSW Institute of Teachers.
A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.