I had a horrible time at school, it was never something which fit well with me and although there are many reasons that I could cite for this my main problem was mind-maps. Maybe not mind-maps alone but the idea and the sentiment that always came with a mind-map.
There is an attitude in schools today that is not told to parents and not told to the general public because it is far too easy to listen to what the media say and just go along with it. A lot of people now believe that all children learn better visually, that is the primary form of learning and schools go along with this. Children are given mind-maps, diagrams, pictures and the like rather than straight facts or a mixture of the two, which sounds good on the face of it I suppose. It is all an attempt to engage children, make them feel positive and happy and therefore make them learn.
Maybe this works for some people, I would never deny that there are people who learn like this. But contrary to the opinion of the educational establishment, there are plenty of children who don’t and I fell into this category. My biology teacher was the worst, she wouldn’t teach us anything at all unless it came in picture form and when questioned about her methods, she stated quite categorically that all children learnt better visually because that was how she learnt. Classic example of why Fingerpointers should not be allowed to become teachers.
She could not understand why I didn’t learn in the same way as her and consequently we didn’t get on very well. But I had the intelligence to study at home, I worry about the students who struggle to learn independently or who simply don’t think about it. Everybody learns in a different way. I write things down and commit it to memory through this process, Blip makes connections and really gets to grips with why something is a certain way, my old biology teacher learnt visually.
The scariest thing about this woman is that she almost won teacher of the year while she was teaching me. She came second.
I had lecturers at the university who were the same, obsessed with the fact that we could only learn through pictures and nothing else would help. My problem with it isn’t the pictures, I can describe the pictures in words or write out the mind-map as a list, my problem is that they refuse to accept that children learn in different ways and because of this the education system becomes more and more obsessed with pictures. They are told by teachers like my biology teacher that children are learning well because they are so blind-sided by their own mind. And when education becomes so one note it can’t help but be dimmed down because you cannot show every fact in pictures, there should be an all-encompassing approach to it utilising pictures and rote learning where each is appropriate. There shouldn’t be discrimination and outright bullying against those children who can’t help the fact that they don’t learn the same way as others.
Also, visual learning is fine but children are being dimmed down by this constant clamour for ‘engaging lessons.’ School should be fun because children are being given the opportunity to learn, if children don’t want to learn and don’t enjoy the process of learning we should be trying to identify the reasons why instead of assaulting them with bright colours and playing deal or no deal (which I once spent an entire maths lesson doing) or snap (maths again) or mastermind (biology) or goosestepping around the school following a guy in a nazi uniform (history) or watching a history teacher take out an old pistol and hold it up to the head of a kid.
Going down to the level of a child and pandering to their dislike of learning is never going to help. Kids are just going to keep getting stupider and stupider. They should love learning just for the sake of getting another fact in their brain and if they don’t then that is our failing as a society. Kids are naturally curious, they ask questions of their parents constantly before school but are most often told to shut up because their parents get bored of the questions. Maybe that is the reason that they don’t like learning, but of course it is much easier for parents to complain to the schools and say they aren’t engaging enough than accept it’s their fault.
My last thought will be of a good friend of ours in America. He is desperate to learn any fact that he can, he asks wide and varied questions and laps up any answer that we can give, as in depth as we can give. But the more we talk to him the more we notice that his school and his repressive parents are sapping his love of learning. If a person asks you a question and you can help them understand the answer in any way then you always should, because for every child that we put off learning we get one step closer to an American education system.
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