Strategy 4: Give the Work Back
DOI link for Strategy 4: Give the Work Back
Strategy 4: Give the Work Back book
Many different educators have attempted to articulate the concept of giving back the work to students. The most frequently-used analogy to convey this message is often attributed to William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The concept is that education and learning should no longer be thought of as a passive process in which the learner simply receives information from a teacher. We cannot simply crack open students’ skulls and pour information into their brains. Instead, we must work as facilitators or guides through the process, so that students can truly master and use the information being taught and not just learn it for a singular, fleeting moment. Every parent of a child six years old or older has gone through the process of trying to teach that child how to tie his or her shoes. I know no experience quite like my own, so I will share with you the error of my ways and how I grew as an educator from the experience. About eight months before my oldest son was to start kindergarten, I reached out to a local kindergarten teacher and asked for her set of learning outcomes for students. She obliged, and within a matter of moments I was holding a list of several things that I could work on with my son over the next few months-one being tying his shoes. Tying shoes, for whatever
reason, stuck out to me and became an area of focus for the next few weeks. We discussed the two “best practice” methods of rabbit ear versus loop, swoop, pull, but we still were running into difficulty. Then, perplexed by the delay in improvement, I discovered that teaching him how to tie a bow on the drawstring of athletic shorts seemed to be much easier. Within a week, he just about had it down. As life became busy-as it always does-shoe tying became less of a priority. In fact, our efforts devolved into me simply repeating loop, swoop, and pull as I hurriedly put on his sneakers each morning and we ran off to start the day. For the next six months, my son watched me tie his shoes and could label each action that I completed-loop, swoop, pull. As June became July and then quickly August, I thought it was time to start practicing this process again. Six months later-with the steps loop, swoop, and pull firmly memorized, my son had actually regressed in terms of being able to tie his shoes. He regressed because as things became busy, I did the work for him, and he was unable to practice mastering the skill.