According to Frank Smith, author of “The Book of learning and Forgetting,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Smith_%28psycholinguist%29, teachers are often wasting their time in class teaching repetitive, mundane things that only promote short-term memory with their students. Smith believes, and supports his work with research that children, especially under seven years of age, learn more from the people & associations that they are surrounded with, then the Traditional View methods of teaching and learning. He argues that the Classical View of teaching and learning — is the best overall method for promoting long-term memory, and creating “real” learning outcomes. What he calls the “clubs” that we associate with, for example, the people we see day-to-day, the activities we participate in such as going to the gym, or hanging out at a local library, are more influential to our learning experiences, then sitting in a traditional classroom, and being “told” how to think, and what to memorize.
When he mentions the term “clubs” he is referring to the people, direct-interactions, or books that we encounter everyday. He includes books because he believes that a learner can relate or associate with the author of a book that he or she is interested in… So “clubs” does not have to be a physical interaction.
If you think about it, he has a point! When we are infants we can and do learn many languages without any formal training or cognitive development. We “mimic” the people we are around, and over time, we learn the language that is in our environment.
Smith believes the best learning is through cooperative, active interactive engagements. Now, I know this is not a new concept — however he takes the idea of shared or grouped learning to a new level. For example, following the extreme-Classical View of learning (You learn from the company you keep), he believes teachers should not offer formal test assessments, and that “most” of the learning should be based on a child’s “social development.” Meaning, there would be no defined grade levels, and students would be encouraged to learn by the association of their peers. Group participation would account for the majority of the class work. (Kind of a Confucius learning style). 😉
As I’m sure you are aware, we do learn and are influenced by the people or “clubs” that we associate with. What do you think? Are you more of a Traditional or Classical type of educator?