Everybody has to take the same exam

Ellen Langer article about Mindful Learning points out three important myths; that although seem very obvious about the truth, it got to my attention how current experiences show me that our reality still has not defy those myths. I am going to share a personal experience that relates to the first myth.

The first myth reads “The basics should be learned so well that they become second nature”.  When you reflect on this, this seems very obvious. I tried to learn english using various approaches, and I was left with having to do a study abroad year in a small college in PA so learning english became a survival skill.  One of my closest friends, join me along he learning experiencing, however, he did not need to go the whole path as Idid, because somehow he caught english language a lot faster than me. But he time I went to study abroad, his english was as good–or bad–as when I came back from 13 months studying in PA. I feel that I at least put as much effort as he did, I certainly Aced all my grammar quiz and grammatical examinations, while my friend did not. What happened?  One way is that each of us have different needs, skills, and weaknesses; and learning occur within that context, which is personal.

The previous example shows me that the myth should be so obvious and not necessary to be explained or shared with other educators. However, we still find students learning basic procedures without understanding why or how they work. We find educators using the same tight structured pedagogy approaches to teach to such a diverse group of learners, as any students group is. The following picture does not need words to be explained.

I think, as Sir Ken Robinson pointed out, education should have common goals, but the paths to them are infinite, and all of they work as long as they aim for the mind of the learner to flourish.

6 Replies to “Everybody has to take the same exam”

  1. Hi Miguel,
    I enjoyed reading your post this week. I really appreciated that you shared your experience of learning English by telling a story about you and your friend. I think you are completely right: learning without consideration of the context defeats the whole purpose.

    The idea that students will *get* an education if teachers teach to a standardized test or through providing the same instruction and learning to all students is a great disservice and cheats those students out of the education they are working to achieve.

    As I was reading the list of myths, I too, thought “Oh yeah, makes perfect sense, of course!” But the reality is that there are still so many educators (and students, parents, people, etc.) out there that believe those myths to be true. You don’t know what you don’t know, but once you know better, you’ve got a responsibility to do better. Thinking about a future in education, I’m starting to question myself and probe this idea of how am I going to do better for my students.

  2. I agree with the fact that each of us has different skills and weaknesses which means that everyone has different ways to learn best. The challenge for the professor is to figure it out which way works better for their students. Don’t you think?

  3. I know a number of people who got perfect scores on TOEFL and yet could not speak English at all! What happened? It seemed like as long as they followed a “test formula,” they’ll get a superb mark on the test and yet fail in actual practice. On the other hand, there are those who may not get a perfect score on the same test, and yet have a much wider facility of the language because they learned and practiced in different ways. Just which set of people did a better job learning? Just what exactly was this test trying to evaluate? I’m rather convinced at this point that instructors should explore various evaluation methods for not only the results, but also the learning process and various aspects of learning. A single “final mark” seems rather pointless, and can be detrimental to the confidence.

  4. As you mention everyone learns differently making it developing standard effective pedagogical skills impossible. And so teachers/educators need to find a common ground on which they are able to target all students by making concepts relevant to the basic abilities/life of a student learning.

  5. That cartoon is one of my favorites in showing how educating all students the same way is ineffective. It reminds me of the quote “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” It’s like in the TED talk we watched in the first class where the professor realized his student was struggling because of his addiction to video games and instead of failing him, allowed him to use his passion and talent as a learning tool. As educators, we need to learn how to pull out the talents of individual students and not the masses.

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