The S.T.E.M and Arts blog by Aurelius Raines II

The S.T.E.M and Arts blog by Aurelius Raines II
"Producers, not Consumers"

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Critical Crises

A teacher-friend of mine quipped, "When my students turn 35, I'm leaving the country."
"Why?" I asked.
"I am not going to retire in a country run by these people."

I chuckle at his pessimism, but I know what he's getting at.

We all recognize that the remainder of this century will present problems that must be solved. Our children will have to be the ones to solve those problems. Global warming, financial stability, food shortages, population management. These will be the problems of the next century and calling them "challenges" is of little help. 

What will be helpful is to teach our future leaders to approach problems in a healthy and productive way.

As it stands, too many of our students are under-motivated and untrained problems solvers. This is a condition bred by a school system (and sometimes a home life) that doesn't require them to solve problems. They are given formulas and they often have to be told which formula to use. 

So that is the problem... here is my solution. 

My class is built on a foundation of critical thought. I have been slowly weening my students off of closed-questions that require rote memorization. I have been replacing these questions with open-ended questions that require critical thought. Our discussions in class are Socratic in nature. I am teaching my students HOW to think and not WHAT to think. Watch the video to the right for an expansion of this concept. 

As a result of my students unfamiliarity to this approach, you will notice a drop in grades. Do not be concerned. I am committed to this process. The grades that you see online are only a part of my assessment of their skills.

Your child is learning to think in a new way. This will take time. Be patient with them and support us both and I can promise an improved student that will be more competitive in the world. I also promise a student worthy of tommorows problems.

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