30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Justice Calo Reign
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 22:37:29

    I really love this blog. It’s time education move from…. let’s make compliant workers perspective and move to a.. let’s make creators and innovators perspective!


    • bornstoryteller
      Jun 13, 2011 @ 22:40:20

      Thank you so much Justice. We need workers, but wouldn’t they be amazing as creative and innovative workers?


      • skdelph
        Jun 13, 2011 @ 22:58:16

        Omoshiroii ~ In Japanese it means fun, but it also can be translated to mean interesting. Naturally when a Japanese child goes to school, the word he learned as a younger child to mean fun, now becomes the word interesting. Immediately, learning interesting things becomes fun. I was born and raised in Tokyo for 12 years. I went to Japanese preschool and first 3 years of grade school. After that I transferred to American School in Japan. It was omoshiroii =o]

      • bornstoryteller
        Jun 13, 2011 @ 23:06:33

        Learning should be interesting and fun, not a chore. Thank you SK.

  2. Thom Brown
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 22:57:41

    This is much to consider in this post – much goodness, I think. Thanks.


  3. Holly Jahangiri
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 23:05:05

    I think a few things need to be learned through rote memorization – but after the basics, it becomes boring and meaningless. Making arbitrary rules is pointless – it’s not all that effective to teach spelling and multiplication tables any other way; however, I’m not sure HOW you could really teach writing, critical thinking, or science that way.

    My son gets near perfect scores on his tests, but not always perfect grades in his BEST subjects, because much of the time he won’t bother to turn in the homework (even if he’s done it the night before). The connection should be obvious, don’t you think?

    I did pause for a moment – are you saying that all Japanese teachers recognize and take time to encourage imagination and different methods of problem solving – that all teachers in the US do not? I wonder if nationality is that significant in the equation…

    This business of seeing everything in black and white was NOT the “norm” when I was growing up – at least not among my teachers. The few who followed some set blueprint and failed to recognize and nurture imagination were – well, let’s just say that I can count them on one hand, name names, and despise the memory of them to this day. Maybe I was just lucky to have some fantastic teachers to counterbalance their effect.


    • bornstoryteller
      Jun 13, 2011 @ 23:16:51

      Holly, nowhere do I say that all Japanese teachers followed this method. It was ONE story that I wish I could find. It is something that has stayed with me all these years, and I wanted to share a methodology that I feel should be embraced. My personal belief is that there are no absolutes in these things. You will still find amazing US teachers who stretch the critical and creative thinking of their students, and then you will also find the ones who do everything by rote to just pass the tests.
      I was a horrible test taker. Hated tests. Give me an essay, I’d ace it. Multiple guess? Fill in the blanks? I was blank. Give me something creative, put thoughts together, express myself? Even when I knew very little of the content I could pass, and usually with high marks. So…was I unintelligent in that I’m not a test taker?
      I agree that some things, the basics, are kinda rote: I call those things “the boring stuff”, and I always let my students know we have to go through the “boring stuff” to get to the parts where they can be set free.
      So..please be aware: I believe in open dialogue, critical and creative thinking, and working on problem solving skills. Things students NEED to survive after school.


      • Holly Jahangiri
        Jun 13, 2011 @ 23:36:13

        I know you do, and you should know that one of my favorite songs – one that ALWAYS brings me to tears, is Harry Chapin’s “Flowers Are Red.” http://grooveshark.com/s/Flowers+Are+Red/25nOR6?src=5 Of course you’re not unintelligent if you test poorly – if that were the case, I’d have been put into remedial classes the minute I FLUNKED my first IQ test (yep, FLUNKED it) and would never have been able to start college when I was 12, or graduate with a B.A. at 18. 😉

        From that point on, my parents enriched my education outside the classroom and my mother taught me test-taking skills, so that by the time I was in middle school, I rarely missed more than one question on our annual standardized tests. That didn’t make me a genius, any more than testing poorly made you stupid. (My point about my son and his test scores is that clearly – if the tests come easy and the only reason for poor grades is “didn’t turn in the homework,” it’s not a problem with the subject matter.)

        I didn’t REALLY think you meant to imply that Japanese teachers, as a rule, were better than anyone else. But I’ve seen that “methodology” (which I’d call a willingness to listen, coupled with a willingness to take time and express a genuine interest in the student) used plenty of times by my own teachers when I was growing up. It helps to have smaller student to teacher ratios.

        I’m just concerned whenever I read nationality dragged into it – consider the backlash over Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Hymn-Tiger-Mother-Chua/dp/1594202842 – the criticism from children – now adults – raised under that sort of inflexible rule. And yet, I’ve seen books in my local library that sing the praises of this sort of strictness in parenting and education, pointing to Asian parents as models of perfection. Books that could make an insecure parent moreso; books that could so offend an overly confident parent that they’d refuse to consider that any of the ideas in it had merit – and they do. No one’s “perfect” – not stay at home moms or moms that work outside the home. Not Mr. Mom or dad the workaholic. Not Asians, Americans, Europeans…

      • bornstoryteller
        Jun 13, 2011 @ 23:42:24

        Holly, I think if we forgo the nationality and just focus on what works towards getting the best for and out of the students, we’d be better off. All better off. While I used a story about Japan, it is just one that struck a huge chord with me.

        I will be exploring Finland in these blogs soon. Why are they rated #1 in world education? What gets me is that there ARE successful working educational models, and we’re are barely looking at them. Some are, but it does not SEEM like the policy makers are.

      • Holly Jahangiri
        Jun 14, 2011 @ 00:23:19

        I agree completely. We need to focus on bringing out the potential in our kids. I asked my son, “Why do you think that childless people, the elderly, and people who don’t even much LIKE kids support free and compulsory education – and why do you think you OWE it to them to study and learn all you can, while you have this chance, and school is your only real ‘job’?” One day, these kids will be running our country, making decisions about our health care and well being – choosing our nursing homes and treating our ailments. I think it behooves us to educate them as best we can! I’d make it a top priority.

      • bornstoryteller
        Jun 14, 2011 @ 00:26:00

        I agree totally. It’s about the future and how they will plan that future.

  4. josie
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 02:56:05

    It’s a great story, I hope I’m a teacher who at least finds out why the student has come up with that answer. English teacher though, not lots of scope. Looking forward to hearing about Finland.
    How do I cope with failure? It has been invaluable learning what it’s like not to be the brightest crayon in the box. . . learning French. I’ve had those, “Oh, god, don’t ask me, don’t ask me. . . Damn. She asked me” moments when learning French. Mainly I just get disheartened with failure!


    • bornstoryteller
      Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:20:01

      Hi Josie: actually, there is a lot of scope in English (are you talking the language or the subject?). Introduce, if you haven’t already, arts integration, and see them put into practice what you’ve led them to with the basics. Creative Drama is my main field, so it’s always my first go to, but there are other creative means of expression.

      If it’s English as Language: teach them through a written play, to get how the cadence of the spoken sentence and dialogue. That’s the easiest, imo. Dramatic Play and “games” where they can only speak English is another (I had to do that while learning American Sign Language: we were not allowed to talk. Only ASL).
      If it’s English the subject, SO many things you can do to get them that reinforces the basics but still allows them to find deeper understanding and make connections. Let me know if I can help.
      and yes, if you feel disheartened as an adult, think of what the kids with less coping mechanisms feel like.


  5. InJensMind
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 03:33:35

    What happens when a teacher teaches the students their personal opinions and beliefs on something that is not necessarily fact? What happens when a student is bright enough to know that racist remarks are not only wrong but, has nothing to do with education? What happens when a student is smarter than the teacher and calls the teacher out on the thing they are teaching and in return gets labeled with “troublemaker” and “stupid”? How about when a child has difficulty understanding the lesson because they are being bullied by the students sitting behind them? Yet, we wonder why bullying, child suicide and drop-outs are at an all time high. We set our children up daily to fail and then expect a different outcome?

    A child’s brain is a sponge and has the ability to learn more, faster than an adult can, yet adults constantly put “ideas” in their young heads that they know nothing and will never know anything until they shut up and do as they are told; be it right or wrong. We don’t raise leaders in this country, we raise sheep. I think the reason so many people have turned to homeschooling is because they realize that to raise a leader and intelligent, well-educated child they have no choice but, to teach them what school’s don’t and that’s how to be different, creative, unique and experiment with other ways of learning.

    It is upsetting that any child would think of themselves as a failure just because they don’t grasp the concept that a teacher spent years of their life learning. It’s time to give our children a break and stop force feeding them the notion that they are stupid, losers and failures just because it takes them longer to understand something. Lift them up, stop tearing them down and when the old doesn’t work throw it out and try something else.


    • bornstoryteller
      Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:22:03

      Hi Jenni: I grew up with a lot of that too in Elementary school. It wasn’t until Junior High that I found some teachers who did not act the way you describe.

      In opening up minds, we should teach them to think on their own, not be railroaded.

      Thank you for your response.


  6. Hajra
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 03:48:57

    There are many things that can be learned out of this. The thing is that we are teaching our children that failure is unacceptable, just not right and a matter of utter shame and guilt. That has to be changed, we have to make them realize that failure is inevitable most of the times and that our determination and will power even after failure is what will guarantee success. Every time a child fails, he doesn’t have the courage of bouncing back because the “guilt” and “shame” associated with failure is bringing him down. That is a matter that needs a revival, a change in the way of looking at failure.


    • bornstoryteller
      Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:59:58

      Hajra, you hit it exactly on the head. The whole shame and guilt thing stops kids dead in the tracks. BTW..I AM NOT endorsing lazy methodology for the sake of the kid feeling good. That is in place right now, imo. I’m talking about challenging them to THINK, not give me things back by rote. Thinking…it does a body good. Thanks Hajra.


  7. Alejandro
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:25:54

    I used to come up with answers to a math question in my head so couldn’t follow a formula thereby not writing one down. Even though i was right was marked down as a result. good post there mate



    • bornstoryteller
      Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:01:35

      A…yeah, you sound like that kid in the story I read. He had worked out things the same way to get other problems done. His thinking was outside of the norm, but it worked more times than not, and the teacher made that discovery. Thank you.


  8. Mary
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:06:29

    If everyone quite on the first try, our world would be a rather boring place 😦 So happy to see we have encouraging teachers out there that are more concerned about how a student arrived at their answer than just grades.


  9. Lalia Voce
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:17:45

    More teachers should think outside the box like this one. Very interesting read. Thanks!


    • bornstoryteller
      Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:50:06

      Thank you Lalia: I feel it needs to be the system(s) that need to do this for it to work properly, and not just say “hi, here’s a half day PD to train you.” This would be something that would need wide school acceptance and training.


  10. Penelope J.
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 15:47:22

    Great example of the Japanese model and how they treat “failure”. I’m also a former English teacher and while memorization can be important, I found creativity in teaching far more productive. Unfortunately, I see how hampered teachers are in the this country (the U.S.) to implement any methods of their own or different from those imposed on them by the so-called Board of Education. As you quoted, the teacher is the depositor and the children are the depositories and that not only hinders creativity but actually blanks out their minds to other possibilities, plus adding to frustration on both sides.
    Also love your use of quotations to support your point.


    • bornstoryteller
      Jun 14, 2011 @ 15:58:21

      Thanks Penelope: I chose those three carefully: an academic, a famous playwright, and the guy with the crazy hair. 🙂 I wanted a balance from walks of life. I should have looked harder from someone in the business world, so if anyone reads this and has a great quote, please send it along. I do feel that memorizing as PART of the educational equation is important, but not the majority of it. I know from experience a lot of kids, once the test is over, forget whatever they crammed for to pass.


  11. Hocam
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 18:44:36

    Wonderful post. Firstly I think it is important to teach pupils not curriculum. Children should be taught to question why and not to be afraid to say I need help. I tell my pupils if they knew it all and understood everything I would not be needed. Tests are not to “test” the pupil but to test how well I’m doing my job. I also tell them I don’t know everything but know where or how to find the answer. I also think we as educators need to model the process of lifelong learning. And we certainly can learn from our pupils.


  12. Melinda
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 15:55:05

    Late to the discussion, but love this post. Thanks


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