Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Do you know the game?
We often make the analogy, when we argue for math drills, let's say, that to get good at anything, you need practice. Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers gives us all kinds of examples of why extraordinary people do extraordinary things - they practice for 10,000 hours. As teachers, we argue that sports uses drills all the time. It's part of the hard work that makes us good at what we do. Therefore, drills in schools are a good thing. But where we go wrong in schools with practice is context. In volleyball, for example, we might practice setting for hours - but it's always in service of the game. The game is the thing. We practice over and over to win the game. But do kids know what the game is when they practice their times tables? The ones that do - win. How can we make sure each child knows about the game? And how can we ensure that we, as teachers, know the game? Sometimes we forget that it's not the test. It's not the assignment. It's not the project. And it's not the report card.