Educators should not teach only facts and formulas — they should also teach students how to use that subject knowledge to remain academically motivated, think critically, and communicate ideas to others, according to a report about education and life skills released Tuesday by the National Research Council.
Whilst I agree with all this and think that it is important for this kind of thing to be out there, I’m starting to get annoyed by the prevalence of announcements and articles like this. The prevailing idea seems to be that teachers don’t know that they should be teaching concepts/critical thinking/communication instead of facts.
We want to teach critical thinking. We know it is a stupid waste of everyone’s time to drill our kids on facts and formulas. We do not want to teach the way we currently teach.
When we teach facts and formats, it’s because our students our being tested by higher authorities on facts and formulas. Even if we ourselves are not yet judged on he well our students perform on these inane assessments, our students are judged on how well they perform. We need to set them up for success on these assessments, so we teach them the facts and formulas. This doesn’t mean teaching to the test, necessarily, but it does often mean spending precious instructional time on detail.
I’m so over educational reformers telling me to teach critical thinking. Don’t tell me that. I know. I want it. Tell into the administrators who write the detail-ridden curriculum I’ve been saddled with and to the standardized testing industry that insists on judging my professional competence and my students’ ability from a test on facts and formulas.
An excellent summary of what most teachers I’ve talked to about this issue say.
Not only that, but we should remember that this isn’t the first time that we’ve been down this road. Curriculum reform seems like it’s on this swinging pendulum between strictly critical thinking/applied learning and basic skills and knowledge. It’s exhausting to look at.