Higher Education, Teaching Methods

Why is education not designed for us to remember things?

I watched a video of a talk given by Roger Shank in 2010 and picked up a good idea for this article. He asked a large audience at a conference something like, “How many of you can give me the quadratic equation?” Nobody put their hand up and then he said, “But you learned it. All of had to learn it in school.” He then went on the ask about four or five other things, like balancing a chemical equation, that we all learned in school and nobody remembered how.

I know that all the information I have learned from this class I will be able to recall years later. That is a first for me. Usually after an exam all the knowledge escapes my brain! (Science of Learning (SOL) former student)

It doesn’t have to be that way. If we teach the way our students learn, they don’t forget. If we know that we are teaching things that they really won’t need to know in the future then why are we teaching it?

Teaching critical thinking skills, how to research, and how to write an argument… these skills need to be taught in university, not just assumed to be already learned. (SOL former student)

When you think about Roger’s questions for each one of us, we had to learn those things in school. We had to memorize (learn) in order to pass a test.

If education is about getting people learning about the world, this module is perfect, if it is about memorizing facts and theories, it is not. (SOL former student)

One year I taught a statistics and research methods class using the method I have developed based on The Science of Learning, and I was amazed at what the students did with it. The class was an advanced class, and the students blew me away (as well as another longtime stats teacher) with what they learned with each other. One of them wrote about a chi-square test – very basic statistical analysis. The students discussed it (among other things) for two weeks. When they finished, they really understood what a chi-square analysis was. We had already taught them a year or so earlier and all of them had done well on the tests or they wouldn’t have been in my class. They had already learned this. In addition, one of them wrote a series of articles about figures (bar graphs, pie charts, etc.) and the entire class discussed everything about the figures that I could think of – and more. But they had already learned about figures years before.

The module has been constructed in a way to allow us to see in action, the very things we are learning. (SOL former student)

…we did not ‘learn’ because we had to pass and I have been inspired and excited to understand. (SOL former student)

Isn’t this what learning should be about?

I found what I thought was lost after many years in the education system: a love for learning. (SOL former student)

Anyone can understand and apply the principles of The Science of Learning. A teacher for his or her practice, a student for his or her learning, a parent to support his or her children, a graduate disillusioned about his or her education, a business trainer to really make a difference in your training. You can transform both yours and your learners’ lives.

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