My latest posts can be found here:
Previous blog posts:
Additionally, some earlier writings:
Just give me the answer!
The first couple of replies offered hints, and asked to see their attempts. Then someone posted a complete, clear and correct solution. Of course, we never heard from the original poster (OP) again.
Others asked why a solution has been given - it was clearly homework, why just give the answer? What could the OP possibly learn except the answer to this one question? How does that really help?
Anyone who has any familiarity with the internet newsgroups and other forums will recognise this. Anyone who has taught will recognise this. "Just give me the answer!" is the cry. The question is seen as something that needs an answer, and the answer is all that matters.
We decry the youth of today for this attitude. "It's clearly," people say "a product of the internet, gaming and television generation. The quick fix, the quick answer, the immediate gratification."
Occasionally I would, unthinkingly, say the same thing.
More recently I was asked for some help with a computer question. I called up the man page, checked with Google, found the answer, and started to explain.
"Just tell me how to do it." was the reply.
The problem is that people don't want to learn to fish. Fishing is hard, fishing is boring, fishing is work, dammit. People just want to be given fish.
How do we change this? How do we give people a love of learning, exploring, finding things out for themselves? How to we create that hunger not for answers, but for the process of problem solving?
There's a lot of research floating around now about using games to convey knowledge and skills. Specially desiged games now teach fractions and equations, and the kids seem to do better on the tests. The problem is, we still haven't taught them to fish.
We need to foster the dogged persistence. We need to nurture the willingness to experiment, to be wrong, to try different approaches, and to explore the problem without immediate reward.
Research shows that the best predictor of future success is the willingness to sacrifice immediate satisfaction for the potential of greater future rewards. We need to teach the pleasure to be found in the chase, and not just in the kill.
But we can't, because it can't be assessed, measured, weighed, or assigned a number. That's why the real education of things that really matter won't happen in schools.
Which is a shame.
Send us a comment ...
Links on this page