Monday, September 30, 2013

Reasons to Look to the Past

Two recent articles highlight how old-fashioned teaching can produce superior results.

In one, Joanne Lipman reflects on how her high school orchestra teacher's methods, which would get him fired today, helped shape his student's successful careers, mostly outside of music. She argues that students need unsentimental honest feedback, memorization, failure. She notes that "strict is better than nice," and "grit trumps talent."

In the other, Peter Lawler reflects on Lipman's article. He talks a bit about the problems of playing up self-esteem:
Real self-esteem--pride as opposed to vanity--comes from pleasurable reflection on real accomplishments, on meeting real challenges, on magnanimously or generously displaying one’s personal greatness. So the best teachers are stingy with praise in order that it really mean something.
Lawler also discusses the problem of trying to teach critical thinking devoid of content:
They know that “critical thinking” or “problem solving” can’t be divorced from the content of who we are and what we do.
Both pieces are thoughtful reflections of the process of learning.