Tuesday, May 29, 2007
should teachers emphasize process or facts?
Let’s say you wanted to teach a student about the history of music – clearly, a large # of dates, places, and names must be absorbed to have any knowledge of the subject matter. On the other hand, if you wanted to teach a student to play music, having his/her memorize facts about the instrument is not going to do anything – the way to go about it is to practice playing. Obviously, studying history also involves the process of placing ideas into a conceptual framework, and playing music needs knowledge of facts like how to read notes, but I think it is fair to say there is a difference in emphasis, in defining the means vs. ends in achieving these different goals. When elementary school age kids are taught gemara, is the goal to impart facts, or to impart the process of gemara thinking and study? When students are given tests, homework, etc., does the work ask them to simply spit back vocabulary words or facts from the page, or does it call upon the use of process-skills? When a teacher speaks with parents, is the emphasis on how many pages of material are covered, or what new skills he/she has practiced with students? What do you look for in your kids' school?