Term Paper: Learning &amp Teaching, LSJ Expecting

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Learning & Teaching, LSJ

Expecting More of Kids: The Essence of Effective Learning and Teaching

In her article "Students Can Do More: U.S. Adults Shield Kids from Tasks that Teach," Dorothy Rich suggests that, in general, teachers, parents, and society as a whole expect far little, in terms of skills, aptitudes, independence levels, and performance, from today's school-aged children. Skills and abilities that are typically expected of today's young students, at home, at school, and elsewhere, are often insufficiently demanding or challenging of them, as well as being too narrowly proscribed by age level or (perceived) ability. The result, as the author further suggests, is that today's school-aged children typically learn, inside and outside of school, only the minimum expected of them, and learn it within particular narrow and predictable environments, at that. Today's students are, therefore, not learning, doing, or attempting mastery of all that they might actually be capable of. Rich therefore asserts (and I agree) that expectations of school-aged children, from teachers, parents, and society as a whole, ought to be greater than they currently are, for the good of these children themselves, and for that of the society that they will grow up into.

Rich also observes that children typically rise to the level of others' expectations of them. At present, however, teachers, parents, and others do not expect nearly enough of them. Moreover, children who have had too little expected of them early on tend to lack confidence in themselves vis-a-vis the outer world, and to also lack either the curiosity or the initiative to learn experientially, or to risk testing their skills and abilities outside structured, familiar predictable environments.

According to "Early Years, Firm Foundations" (2004):

Children learn through hands-on experience. Good settings provide a broad range of rich and stimulating opportunities for children to investigate and explore their environment and... The world in which they live... with opportunities to use their senses, ask questions, and build on what they already know.

Dorothy Rich's example of American parents who cheerfully continue to push their children along in strollers when those children are perfectly capable of walking on their own, is emblematic of American culture's coddling and overprotective attitudes toward children. Further, Rich's stroller example also points to ways that today's parents may often, non-reflectively perpetuate their children's overdependence, lack of initiative, and dependency. Implicit in Rich's argument, also, is the idea that as adults, once-overprotected children will lack initiative; curiosity; flexibility, and desire to achieve beyond the minimum levels: in school, work, and life.

In Europe, as opposed to America, almost everyone walks everywhere on their own, from a very early age. Europeans, even the youngest, learn early on not to rely on others (or on strollers; cars, or other vehicles operated by protective caregivers) to transport them. Keeping up with bigger, older walkers, is not just a necessity; it is a matter of early personal pride. As a result European children learn autonomy; confidence; independence, and directional skills at an age that their American peers are still happily bumming stroller rides. This difference is not because American children cannot learn at the same age the independence and skills of European ones. Rather, it is because such early self-reliance and personal independence are not encouraged from them. As Worldtrans.org observes:

The basic principle that an individual is free to make personal choices applies to children... However,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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