@educationgovuk rote learning may not be suitable for mature students but it’s what kids are geared to

I may not be the standard model on which to base education but I’m the only solid reference point that I’ve got.

My experience of my education is that I learned to speak by an immersion in my culture. Apparently we develop most of our language skills at about 2 years old. Some kids don’t speak until about this age but are by no means lagging those who were able to spout disjointed phrases at an earlier age.

I think I missed out by not being in a multi-lingual household, because those who grow up in such a situation, become more adept at learning other languages. I envy kids in the present multi-language schools and would like to see the parents of immigrants forced to learn English, as a means of enhancing these skills in the young.

I remember being a sponge in terms of learning facts and my impression is that this rote learning is an innate characteristic of pre-pubescents. I, for instance, never learned my alphabet, or how to tie my shoelaces, until I was about to take the eleven plus.

My advantage over other kids, at that age, was simply an ability to see patterns in facts. My problem solving skills weren’t great but once I was shown a technique for a particular type of problem, I could apply it to similar problems. My contemporaries could understand a solution but not apply it in a similar situation. I suggest that they were rote learning only.

In fact, my teaching experience tell me that, when pupils enter puberty, they take ten steps back in terms of comprehension and even rote learning. If it wasn’t for exam targets being geared to age groups, we would have entered many pupils for their GCSE at year 9 i.e.12 & 13 year old’s).

from 14 to 17 education is a waste of time knock off a year for girls), except in terms of trying to practise recalling their earlier learned rote facts. Strangely at about 18 years old, just in time for the final ear of “A”-levels, y

the suddenly seem capable of drawing disparate pieces of knowledge together and formulating a holistic understanding.

I think, for myself, this ability to draw the lumps of knowledge together came later than for others.

In fact for History,, the importance of chronological order didn’t work until I tried to fathom the evolution of the present political system.

One particular arcane bit of understanding never really sunk in, until I was actually teaching it. (This is one for Physicists). I remember telling a class that the Load and Effort values should only be recorded when a slight pull on the Effort allowed a pulley system to raise the Load at a steady speed. This was a Eureka moment for me. My teacher may have explained it to me but I wasn’t mature enough to “get it” until I was quite mature.

The summary of all this is two-fold. Academic learning is wasted during puberty (we are geared to establishing our social relationships during this period) and that understanding will come to those capable of it, when they are capable of it. Until thenĀ  teach facts, teach techniques but give up in trying to teach understanding. provide the bricks, teach brick-laying but leave the house design to develop naturally.



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