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Friday, February 1, 2008

A moment in the life

I tend to agree with modern educational philosophy that supports making students think. I'm all for encouraging critical thinking instead of just cramming kids with information, validating their ideas, and all the rest. But the bottom line is, beneath all that hype, we teachers have an agenda. Or at least a curriculum of actual facts that we want our students to know.

At times, bridging the two -- the thinking and the information, that is -- requires the skill of a mental contortionist.

Take this lesson, for example. We were learning about vaccines, and we'd already learned about how epidemics spread, so I was hoping that with a little pulling, I could get the kids to synthesize the two concepts:

Miss Melech: OK, so I understand now that it's a good idea for me to get shots so I don't get sick. But before I go to camp, they give me a form for my doctor to sign, saying that I got my vaccinations. Why should they care?
(Stated objective on lesson plan: Open-ended question gets kids to think critically.
Actual objective: Understand that if one person gets sick, it can spread to others, so it's in everyone's best interest for everyone to get stay healthy)

Kid: They don't want you to get sick.
MM: So? Why should they care if I get sick? It's my tough luck.
Kid: They won't pay for your medicine.
MM: Well, that's also my tough luck. Why should they care if I don't want shots? What happens when one person gets sick?
Kid: If they don't give you medicine, you could die.
MM: Chas v'shalom! But still, what difference does it make to other people if I get sick in camp?
Kid: They don't like making funerals.

Can you beat this logic?

6 comments:

BEHIND A SMILE said...

Love it how kids see things so straight. How did we manage to complicate our life so much? Do we think too much?

ProfK said...

It never fails. Teacher starts out on Road A with objective A in sight and a student segues to Road K, makes a sharp turn onto Road N and you all end up at objective Z. You "see" a lot of the country when you teach

Scraps said...

Oysh. Wow...

halfshared said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tzvi said...

Why do you want to beat this logic? there isnt a competition between you and the students. You should be praising the kid for his creativity.
in this case I wouldnt be surprised if the kid is right since making a funeral with all of the bad PR that would bring is probably highest on the managements mind.
To lead it back to the answer you were hoping for ask if anyone has other options. you can also ask keading questions.
furthermore in this specific case why hould you encourage the kids to think that the only reason people do things is for selfish practical reasons as opposed to being concerned with another persons wellbeing.
lastly the answer that other people may get sick also is actually a bad answer in this case since if everyone else has the vaccine it is unlikely they will get your sickness and anyone who doesn't have it would be by choice.

Bas~Melech said...

Tzvi -- That is not actually entirely accurate. Vaccines are not always 100% effective, plus there are people who can't get vaccines either because of age limits or medical reasons. People who don't vaccinate their kids (I'm not saying this is a bad decision; to each his own...) put babies and delicate people at risk.

Look at the measles outbreak in Israel. Babies got dangerously sick because they were exposed to un-vaccinated people before they were old enough to receive the shot themselves.