It’s really not a news flash – except to thousands of Kentucky educators – but a researcher in psychological sciences at the University of Missouri just issued findings that,
“Schools need to push children to learn things that they do not do naturally.”
Dr. David Geary, Curators’ Professor of Psychological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science went on to say,
“Learning is not always going to be fun and children should not expect it to be. Attempting to engage children by making activities fun, causes those activities to become more similar to what students are already doing naturally and can limit new learning.”
A University of Missouri news release about Dr. Geary’s report goes on to say,
“Geary found that one reason U.S. students may be behind students in other countries in subjects like science and math is because American schools have moved away from traditional practices where students learn information through repetition. Instead, U.S. schools often use more group and social interactions to teach topics that can be challenging.
‘From an evolutionary perspective, what we are designed to do and what culture says we now have to do, is very different,’ Geary said. ‘We should not expect what comes naturally to us to be the best way to learn something new.’”
In other words, learning involves hard, sometimes toilsome work like practice and repetition.
Geary is certainly a man worth listening to. His bio indicates he has special expertise in the area of teaching math to students, something that Kentucky has struggled with mightily for years. In fact, Dr. Geary was one of the select scholars on the President’s National Mathematics Advisory Panel.
Anyway, Geary teaches a lesson far too many of our educators are flunking as they struggle with feel good approaches to education that simply won’t get the job done. As we work towards setting new education standards and a new assessment program, Dr. Geary seems to be running a class that our teachers badly need to attend.