Thursday, December 18, 2003

Effective Habits, To Teach or Not to Teach?
The musings below, (for which I encourage anyone who might actually be reading this to send their thoughts on thoughts to me at linguisticlife@yahoo.com,) have led me to further thoughts that are actually related to my field of study. One of the last things we covered in my Methods of TESOL class was teaching reading and vocabulary strategies. For each section of the course, we had looked at various research studies into each category. Many studies have been done which compare the study/reading strategies of more proficient learners, the obvious idea being that by identifying these strategies, we can then teach them to other learners, and they will become successful learners as well.

There's a problem with this idea, though, which has been brought up by other researchers. Should we, in effect, teach these other students how to think? Should we assume that it is the strategies that make for success, rather than the converse idea that it is because the students are successful that they can make proper use of such strategies?

Everyone thinks differently. Even if all highly literate people share the same reading strategies, which is doubtful, this is likely a product of the inherent mental bent that causes them to have an affinity for literacy. If someone asked a math genius to explain to me his or her mental strategies for solving a complex problem, I doubt I would be able to force my own mental strategies into the same pathways. The strategies people employ to excel in their own ways are rarely things they learn to do, they are simply things they do.

While studying the effective habits of successful learners in various fields is quite interesting, I don't think it will be helpful as a way to produce more, equally wonderful students simply by teaching them strategies for learning. It will be good and interesting observational data, and probably useful as a predictive measure for what a child may be good at, but not a way to change thought patterns in students' minds.

Thus, my example of how I know how to spell things is just an example, not direction on how to do it. I just want more anecdotes from other people on what they can do, in whatever area. The human mind is an amazing thing.

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