intellectual curiosity vs mandatory learning

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Chuck Costello, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. Chuck Costello

    Chuck Costello New Member

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    Jul 9, 2018

    Hey everyone,

    As I'm new to the site, I have been scrolling through reading various threads and have been very fascinated by the wide ranging discussion. However, one topic that I did not come upon was intellectual curiosity and how it affects students' learning in comparison to mandatory learning. I think we can all agree that students excel more in subjects and activities that they enjoy, however my question is how big is that differential, and how far will students go to stimulate their curiosity in terms of academics. I often find that students, when interested in something, will pursue it for a class period, or a week, or a semester at most, but only the best students continue to research and further learn outside the classroom.

    This raises the question are we missing something? Is there some sort of incentive that we can provide for students to get them to further follow their passion? Or will human nature always guide students back to their instant-gratification ventures such as video games and youtube. Conversely, many students just succeed in subjects, not because they have passion for them, but because they 'do what they're supposed to' and put in the work.

    My opinion is that if we had a way to connect teachers and students outside the classroom with wide enough ranging topics to fit students' passions, we could be developing a better youth. Some students will have passion for the core academics while others will for astronomy and art and intricate history. when students and teachers are both passionate for a subject and they connect, special things can happen. Places like khan academy do not do a good enough job of connecting real teachers to students.

    Let me know what you think, thanks for reading.
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jul 10, 2018

    I agree that the best motivation for learning is curiosity. When "reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic" are "taught to the tune of a hickory stick", the students recall for a test but not for further use. Unfortunately, a prevailing societal attitude towards learning is

    Now I sit me down to study.
    I pray the Lord I won't go nutty.
    If I should fail to learn this junk,
    I pray the Lord that I won't flunk.

    Kids are curious. (So are adults). The human brain constantly seeks information. The brain responds to novelty and importance. The brain seeks connections to previous learning. This curiosity is going to be satisfied, either by the zing and bing of video games, the blip and flip of a TV screen, or by the teacher's presentation of amazing and fantastic information just waiting to be discovered. Rather than "sit down, shut up, and listen to the drone of the teacher", teacher", teacher", teacher"...oops, sorry, I nodded off. Instead....school should be a time of "ready, set, go!" Not just teacher instruction, but student discussion, exploration, and as Miss Frizzle would say, "It's time to take chances, get messy, and make mistakes!"
     
  4. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2018

    Hello! I believe that intellectual curiosity will occur when the teacher has made the connection to the student's life that the information the class is learning is important to life. This in return will push some students to continue learning on their own, while others will only recall information when it is needed.

    I do not believe we are missing anything. When I think about when I was younger, I completed my work as quickly as possible so I could do what I enjoyed, which was play sports and spend time with my girlfriend. A teacher could have had the best lesson ever and taught me life changing information; however, I am only going to use that information when it is needed. For example, I had my dad as a teacher for economics and he taught me about the stock market. In high school, I could care less about the stock market, not because of the way my dad taught me or because of instant-gratification ventures, but because I did not have any use to know about the stock market except to know that one day I would need to invest in it to build my financial future. Now I am involved in the stock market and I do my own research to learn because I am at a point in my life when it matters.

    We cannot control students' passion for learning and the teacher will ALWAYS be more passionate than the students. This is why we became teachers. So while we want students to explore topics and subjects on their own outside of the classroom, we must remember that they are kids, and much of the information they learn is important, but not always relevant to their current lifestyle. However, it is important to continue teaching and influencing our youth because one day they will need to recall what they learned, when they need it for their specific life.
     
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  5. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jul 11, 2018

    Learning and recall are based upon brain connections. The more the connections, and the stronger the insulation of those connections, the better the recall and the better the application. Relevance is strongly related to conceptual learning; rote memory and mimicking procedures apart from enriched conceptual connections still has some connections somewhere in the brain, but these connections might be faulty or fewer in number. (I've had to help students unlearn many faulty connections in third grade math from previous rote learning of procedures).

    Examples of enriched conceptual and relevant teaching in elementary grades as opposed to behavioristic only teaching might be....

    Math.

    Behavioristic lesson: 23+79=? Add 9+7. The answer is 12. 12 is too big to write under the 3 and the 9, so carry the 1 and put it on top of the 2 and the 7. Add 1+2+7. The answer is 10. 10 is too big to write under the 1,2, and 7, so carry it over to the next space. Write a 1 under the line. The answer is 102.

    Holistic lesson: Sally counted 23 ants in the yard. Sammy counted 79 ants. How many ants did both kids find? Add the ones place. 3+9 equals 12. Regroup (or trade) the one ten into the 10's place (as practiced many times with base ten blocks). Add the tens. 1+2+7=10 tens. Regroup (or trade) the one hundred into the hundreds place. 23+79=102. The students also have learned that equals means both sides of the equation are equivalent. Equals does not mean "write an answer here". Math becomes applied to everyday life: How much farther does one Hot Wheel car travel than another? How can I adjust the track to make the cars go faster or farther? How much more does a Little Debbie cost if sold separately from an entire package? How much less is a Little Debbie in one store as opposed to another?

    Reading.

    Behavioristic lesson: Sound out words, match the words on a page with words for an answer to questions, take turns reading aloud so that each student reads approximately 1 paragraph per day. Rather than reading in monotone overemphasize last phonemes in order to sound more expressive, and whatever you do--don't guess! Any other books assigned for homework must be within the exact reading level that matches the basal reader.

    Holistic lesson: Using phonics, especially phonograms, and context clues, read for meaning. With fluency, (as word recognition becomes less phonetically based), the student's voice will adapt to match the appropriate meaning of the passage, often based upon hearing the teacher and especially the parent reading aloud. Students will answer questions to demonstrate their understanding of the text and even ask further questions about the text, such as, "What would happen if...." Students will be encouraged to read, read, and read some more from their own choice from a selection of books, such as in a library. Some books will be similar to the reading level of classroom texts or basal reader and some will be easier or more challenging. Reading is not a procedure to get a grade but a skill to explore books, magazines, and other written communication.

    Science.

    Behavioristic: Memorize these facts. Watch the teacher do demonstrations, especially mixing vinegar and baking soda or lighting a match inside a bottle so that an egg drops into the bottle because the match takes away all the air (which isn't true, by the way).

    Holistic: Memorize facts, but also understand how they fit into the history of science. Experiment: The kids try explorations and record what they observe. The kids also devise their own experiments. The teacher also does demonstrations, especially if the demonstration is too dangerous or too complex for that age group to assemble and try. Science is not just a tacked on filler at the end of a less busy teaching day. The students perceive science as a way to efficiently and as accurately as possible explore, invent, and discover. [I must add this note, too. So many adults perceive science as an "intellectual" sitting in an office and deciding this is what is true, and so he writes his theory, defined to so many adults as a "whim" or an "idea", and everyone else decides to accept it. Then he comes up with a fancy "experiment" to demonstrate his idea. Oh, and many adults still perceive all scientists as he's rather than also she's].
     
  6. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Jul 11, 2018

    My middle son is weirdly good at self-motivated learning for some things. For instance, he became interested in the evolution of smartphones and has watched *every* , *single* Apple keynote speech on the various iPhones, most of them multiple times. He knows when each feature was introduced, the versions, the colors they were available in, any scandals and controversies that occurred at the time, and then how they compare to other brands.

    Is this standard academics? No. But he does learn a lot, about both the products themselves, and about marketing and presentation (imagine, after all, taking public speaking lessons from Steve Jobs!)
     
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  7. eiwactor

    eiwactor Rookie

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    Jul 11, 2018

    I recently read about a study in which students were given summer reading books to test the correlation between summer literacy and reading achievement. These selected books fit their reading levels and interests (based on a survey). Surprisingly, it was later concluded that the students who only visited the library during the summer for books of their choosing had significantly higher reading achievement than those whose books were selected. This directly relates to your post, because it signifies that genuine curiosity drives students towards success. It is my belief that it is the teacher's duty to identify such curiosities and support them with the appropriate resources. I believe that this type of support can only be provided through a strong interconnection between teachers, families, and communities. I agree that higher achieving students tend to exceed when doing activities that come easy to them, or simply because the work has to be done. Out of curiosity, I tend to ask students who are high achievers what they want do in the future. Generally, none of the students say that they want a career that would show their academic strength. Perhaps if teachers put an emphasis on the variety of careers that highlight certain skills, students would realize that there are more to choose from than expected.
     
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  8. eiwactor

    eiwactor Rookie

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    Jul 14, 2018



    This type of student lead education encapsulates the 21st century education. I think that oftentimes teachers are apprehensive about making these types of shifts simply because it is not what they are accustomed to. Teachers are no longer "drivers" in education, rather passengers holding the map as students take the wheel. Rather than fixing mistakes, which we so used to doing, teachers should show students the beauty in these mistakes and use them as learning experiences. This makes the learning experience more positive and provides our youth with the motivation needed to become lifelong learners.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
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  9. eiwactor

    eiwactor Rookie

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    Jul 14, 2018


    I think that these types of interests is what should drive instruction in our classroom. We should use these genuine curiosities by incorporating them into our daily curriculum. Using what students are naturally appealed to and relating them to our core subject areas will perhaps help students understand the purpose and relevance of their daily academics. The guiding questions that teacher should ask themselves prior to instruction, during the planning process are: What do my students like? What future careers are they interested in? What are the latest trends and topics that this age enjoys? What are some ways that I can in include these in instruction?
     
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  10. eiwactor

    eiwactor Rookie

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    Jul 14, 2018

    I recently read about a study in which students were given summer reading books to test the correlation between summer literacy and reading achievement. These selected books fit their reading levels and interests (based on a survey). Surprisingly, it was later concluded that the students who only visited the library during the summer for books of their choosing had significantly higher reading achievement than those whose books were selected. This directly relates to your post, because it signifies that genuine curiosity drives students towards success. It is my belief that it is the teacher's duty to identify such curiosities and support them with the appropriate resources. I believe that this type of support can only be provided through a strong interconnection between teachers, families, and communities. I agree that higher achieving students tend to exceed when doing activities that come easy to them, or simply because the work has to be done. Out of curiosity, I tend to ask students who are high achievers what they want do in the future. Generally, none of the students say that they want a career that would show their academic strength. Perhaps if teachers put an emphasis on the variety of careers that highlight certain skills, students would realize that there are more to choose from than expected.
     
  11. Melani Glover

    Melani Glover Rookie

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    Jul 17, 2018

    I think the biggest goal of the teaching should be to encourage intellectual curiosity in the students, mandatory learning makes the learning tough, boring. One of the biggest success stories of this holistic approach is Steve Jobs, who enrolled for the engineering course in the University but was always intrigued by the calligraphy class, so he joined that class and mastered calligraphy. These lessons in calligraphy came in hand when he designed beautiful interface of Apple computer.

    So learning must be fun, interesting and this is only possible when a student is curious, so the teacher must stop being a teacher, they should take on a role of a mentor, who is more of a friend, an ally rather than a traditional teacher, who are often feared.
     
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  12. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jul 18, 2018

    Yes! Mistakes are good! We learn by correcting mistakes. Even if a student gets it right the first time, s/he still began the lesson without the new knowledge and skill. Surely, there is a time when perfection is crucial, such as when I'm driving in about an hour from now; but that's why when I was a teenager, I had drivers' education and began my driving adventures with a learner's permit and my dad with me at all times.

    Teachers often expect too much from students. Not all students are going to proceed from one lesson, guided practice (often skipped by the way in today's busy time schedule), to 100% achievement in independent practice. The mistakes are often misinterpreted by the teacher as inattentiveness, lack of effort (especially if the student tries to save face by taking on the part of the class clown so as not to appear stupid in front of peers), or lack of intelligence. Daniel Leviton, in The Organized Mind, describes how such inferences are common, not just in teaching but in judgments of outcomes in general, people tend to judge based upon immediately observable outcomes and ignore the entire situational influence of outcomes. Yet the reality of what's occurring in the classroom is often the way the student's mind is achieving the objective. Memory and skill don't always follow an instantaneous or timed framework.

    The student's brain readily makes connections with previous learning and develops neural pathways for the new learning. This new learning in all students is still in a developmental stage. It takes practice and further connections and more neural pathways to fully develop competence. Even students who score 100% in independent practice might have misunderstandings in their thinking--they might be achieving on paper the expected outcome but the total understanding might still be lacking.

    Student errors do not indicate no understanding, they indicate developing understanding. In colloquial student language, they almost get it. Correcting errors reinforces neural pathways, it reinforces the insulation surrounding the pathway, and the new memory and skill is strengthened. Scolding, punishing, degrading a student for mistakes damages, literally, physically, damages the brain, probably flooding it with cortisol that inhibits learning, and results in lessened achievement rather than solving the difficulty.

    Levitin, Daniel J. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. N.Y.: Dutton, 2014. Pages 145-159.
     

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