Teaching for Understanding

Having read David Perkin’s article¬† ‘Teaching for Understanding’, I felt a renewed interest in teaching methods. I’m not a teacher, but I did very much appreciate where my frustrations lay in being taught all the way up to university level. It usually lay in the practical applications of what I was learning, or rather, the lack of them. I was taught how to beat exams, to memorise, and to regurgitate, not necessarily how to apply learning to real-world scenarios.

I love the idea of teaching people concepts, by using real-world application, lateral thinking, analogy, and a tailored learning approach. (This is all limited by class size etc, but I feel the theory is sound.) For example,take a secondary school, a quick questionnaire is passed around the start of the year. Half a class list their hobby as sports. The physics teacher can apply physics to soccer; kids would be more interested in physics theory if it helped them kick a ball like Ronaldo, rather than is learning dry, contextless memory tests. The weight, speed, direction of the ball, distance to goal, all these fall under the umbrella of physics, and could be incorporated. If the kids like film, let them set up a film set using geometric shapes, you’re teaching them the same maths equations, but now they can relate to it. If they are from a rural area, use the shapes to define the area of fields or crops.

The first barrier to education is lack of interest, if that can be conquered, the rest can then be tackled.