For the last week, I have been reading Daniel Willingham‘s articles and pieces on this Washington Post blog. I have been intrigued with his ideas and even more so with his research. Maybe it’s the skeptic in me, but I find his work and reference to research (or lack thereof) refreshing. Today, I decided to share this video with my faculty.
Learning Styles Don’t Exist
After the viewing, I asked the faculty not to convert to his thinking, but to be cautious about what we commonly accept as true. My hope was that the faculty would engage in some fruitful dialogue about Willingham’s stand. Who knows… maybe some of them would like to read more about this topic – get in the game – get in the debate.
Regardless of what their reactions will be, I did feel a bit like a heretic; presenting a debunk to what the edu-world and edu-gurus have been telling us for years. I don’t like being told that “differentiated instruction” or “teaching to learning styles” is the way to teach our young minds. It is my firm belief that we are first and foremost pracitioners of curriclum (especially in the high schools). Our loyalties are to be with the curriculum, with the content, and with facilitating information transfer and student self discovery. This is not a new idea, but one that I learned from The Education Trust.
I was lucky enough to have been trained by The Ed Trust in assessing assessments and about how to approach teaching underpriveldged children. Ed Trust is not an advocate of the curriclum reaching children – rather, they want us to teach the children how to reach the curriculum. In other words, the content of the curriculum and our ability to have the students get it is much more important that simply watering it down so that they can easily access it. That, too , was refeshing to hear. They preach that teachers must teach the curriculum, forgo the pity that comes with broken students, and get the students educated, not pardoned.
Some time soon, that will also be part of my faculty gatherings. Willingham may have been my first sin in education, but it will not be my last.