In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, there is that great song, “Tradition”. Few things are more bound by tradition than schooling and our approach to learning. The pattern is easy to recognize:
- Teacher gathers the group
- Teacher explains the lesson
- Teacher gives an introduction then an instruction
- Teacher asks questions that she or he knows the answer to
- Students do their worksheets, use their textbooks (or computers)
- Teacher interrupts students, gathers and closes the lesson
- In three weeks there will be a test
- The test counts towards a subject grade
Sound familiar? Of course, there are exceptions. But this is what is normal, what is often expected and perhaps part of the problem because this may not be the best way to organize learning or structure teaching.
What if we were to turn things upside down and let the children ask more of the questions? What if we carried out an experiment and posed hypothesis and questions later –and then redid the experiment?
Tradition has a purpose. In this case, the routines have to fit the needs – to ease learning. Turn things upside down now and again.