Teaching Through Natural Inspiration

j0396086_2For learners to become lifelong learners and well-rounded happy people in society, it is important for us to work with them.  Finding innovative ways of teaching that will produce effective results is a challenge that every teacher faces in the classroom.  Integrating learning with games simply makes teaching and learning fun.  In some cases where needed, it can provide an impetus for re-stimulating a child’s natural desire to learn.This is especially important if, during anywhere in the child’s schooling, there was an overemphasis on making the grade – where making the grade became a subconsciously anxiety-driven displaced goal for recognition and appreciation.

When emphasis is placed on grading, children become more concerned with achieving the grade than on the journey in achieving the grade, sometimes associating their “goodness” then, with the grade. An achiever-style A/B student can show achievement and success, though more often than not, it can be detrimental to the student’s self-esteem.  The child’s struggle and focus can become a goal for the teacher’s acceptance, literally surpassing the learning aspect altogether.

Pedagogue, Alfie Kohn calls this “chasing the carrot” or “avoiding the stick” in his text What Does it Mean to be Well Educated? (2004).  Kohn suggests that rewarding students for a certain grade can be as damaging as punishing for not having done so.  Both methods skip over the central core of a student – the natural joy and thirst for learning.  This natural thirst and joy for learning is present in children, so obviously in the early years.  Though once introduced to the system of grading, the child can subconsciously develop strategizing – a subtle form of innocent manipulation to work at receiving that age-old important authority / parental / teacher’s acceptance.

Focusing on the importance of grades can breed memorizer students – those who practice memory techniques to give back to a teacher what the student thinks the teacher wants, rather than the optimal learner students.  Even though memorizing can be an effective study tool, memorizing is not likely the quality learning result that a teacher truly wants for the student.

Where grading may be an important part of the educational system, it is only effective if minimal importance of it is placed upon the psyche of the child.  Introducing games in the curriculum of a child’s schooling reminds the child that learning is by its very own nature, supposed to be fun.  Designing curriculum that regularly incorporates left-brain/right-brain activities such as spatial functioning card games, both encourages the child to desire learning again (what was once a natural thing), and while literally developing new healthy dendrites in the child’s growing brain.

For an example on Teaching Through Inspiration, here are some of our Fun Math Learning Games:

http://www.math-lessons.ca/activities/Geometry.html

http://www.math-lessons.ca/activities/OneEquals.html

http://www.math-lessons.ca/activities/equiv-fractions-bingo.htm

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Comments (3)

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  1. Stella says:

    I am currently in a Master’s teaching program in Maine and we have talked about this over and over in all of my classes. One thing we discussed during our last class is that Maine might be changing their whole education system, where everything is standards based. The idea behind it is that grades will be eliminated, and students will move to the next “subject” when they have mastered the content and reached the standard. Grades can be a very difficult thing for students and for teachers, because they don’t always measure the actual knowledge. As you said, some students learn to memorize things (and forget it after the test or assignment), and don’t actually learn the material. I feel that all students want to learn and succeed in school, but there is a stigma attached to doing well in school and getting good grades. I am dreading giving A,B,C,D,F grades when I teach because I don’t always feel that they are an accurate measure of the student’s progress and hard work.

  2. Vidal Aponte says:

    You nailed it right on the head! If we want our kids to improve in math or just do excellent in this subject we have to help them. We can’t depend on the educational school system to do it all. We have to take responsibility as parents and teach them. This is something we should do at a very young age. I read a comment on a blog where the parent said they are teaching their kids math through the television program Noggin. We have to teach them ourselves, because then with our help and what they are getting in school your son or daughter will succeed without a doubt.

  3. Rob says:

    Thanks Stella. Forgive our delay in response as your comments are most interesting. It is quite a subjective area, the idea of giving grades. i.e. What does it mean to the child on an emotional level? What are we saying to them if they are not making the grade, so to speak? And does the educational system continue if there is no longer grading. Alfie Kohn’s ideas are non-conventional to the traditional school system, though at the same time inspiring, and not impossible to achieve. Much courage would be required, by more than one teacher in a system to bring such a concept into the physical school system.

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