Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Giving students all the answers...

Why is it that students want the answers put right in front of their face? Is it that they are lazy? Unambitious? Do they just want the easy route? Many of you may think that these assumptions are true, and in a few cases it may be just that. But what about those other students? Those who actually are trying and those who are willing to put in the time. It seems hard to swallow sometimes when we sit in our classrooms and see those students (there may be lots of them), that just get frustrated with you when they don't have the answer given to them in the notes or once they watch a video. I had an experience like that today in my social studies 9/10 class.

I was quite happy to be presenting a video about "The Great Age of Exploration (1400-1550)" to my students. I think to myself, 'Hey, it sure beats having to read the textbook or do notes. They will love this.' Little did I realize that not all students agree. Once the video was done, there were 10 discussion questions for them to complete and hand in. They loosely fit the video, but were also a source of critical thinking for the students to evaluate what the explorers actually did for the world. Boy oh boy, I tell you, there were about 3/4 of my class that hated that assignment. They were grumbling, talking back, talking under their breath about how I am '"not teaching them what they need for this assignment", or they are "not sure how they are supposed to remember all that happened in the video to answer these questions", or how "it would be nice to be able to have an example". I get increasingly frustrated myself (inside), and tell my students "these are critical thinking questions, and you need to relate the information you saw in the video to what is being asked in the question. The answers will not always be given to you word by word. Sometimes you have to dig deep and use some common sense and prior knowledge to help answer the questions." They were not impressed with me. So, I gave them one answer I had to one of the questions. It didn't seem to help their attitude, but I at that point was not concerned with those that "have to have it their way all the time", and focused my effort on those that did want to try. Because as teachers, we are there for those who want to learn, and those who want to push themselves to succeed and try new things. Critical thinking skills are extremely important, and I think we need to push our students to try and to develop those skills.

Success and life is not handed out on a platter, and neither should the answers. Make them work for it, otherwise we are doing a grave injustice to our future citizens. What do you think?