Saturday, September 30, 2006

The beginning of some early bad habits......

Later that semester, the teacher announces to Dick and Jane’s class that there will be a test before the holidays to assess how much the students have learned about the ancient explorers they have been studying.

In the days leading up to the test, both Dick and Jane read all the notes that they have been copying from the blackboards for the past several weeks. Their notebooks are now filled with paragraphs, containing a plethora of information, which they must memorize. The standard study technique was to read, re-read, and repeat the process until the student was able to recite the information back, perhaps to a willing parent. Or, the parent might engage in a question and answer exercise, covering all the material.

The following day, Dick and Jane take the test. Both are reasonably bright students and they achieved good marks. A few weeks later, however, they don’t remember much of what they had been tested on, but at least the test is over and can be forgotten.

Toward the end of the school year, the teacher announces that the final exam in history will cover all the material studied that year.

At this point, both Dick and Jane begin to panic. They realize that they don’t remember much of what they had studied at the first of the year and will have to go back and re-memorize all the notes that they had copied from the teacher’s blackboards. They still have their maps, so that will help; but they also have four or five times as much material to cover.

And so, for the next couple of weeks, Dick and Jane are exposed to those familiar stages leading up to exams: panic, anxiety, memory blocks, fear of failure, frustration, tension,……and the list of negatives goes on. There isn’t much room for positive re-enforcement of good study habits to overcome all this negativity that is getting in the way of learning the material. But that would assume good study habits (even simple steps such as periodic review, re-enforcement techniques and recall exercises) had been taught and learned early on in the student’s career, which of course they hadn’t. Students, even at Dick and Jane's level, were expected to be innately capable of developing these techniques on their own and dealing with the ever-increasing volume of information confronting them, as they move to successive grade levels.

Unfortunately, this scenario will repeat itself throughout Dick and Jane’s school years, unless they learn new study habits and how to learn.


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