Three Learning Goals To Take Into The New Year
As 2015 winds down, there’s a flood of year-end reviews and best/worst lists fighting for your attention. . Every single news outlet has its own take on the year behind us. If information overload is the bane of the digital age, it gets amplified at the end of the year, as people tend to look back just as much as they look ahead.
But don’t worry, this is not another “year in review”! We at Meemli took a slightly different approach. A lot has happened in 2015, tragic, uplifting, worrisome, encouraging, but we don’t want to compile yet another list of events. Our focus is narrow, but targeted at something we can use: what education news item of 2015, big or small, gives us warm fuzzies as well as ideas we would like to keep in mind as we move into 2016?
Here are three stories (result of a totally subjective analysis!) with learning goals that we would like to remember and hope they will inform our educational efforts in 2016.
Less Emphasis on Testing
Students and parents have long complained about the excessive focus on standardized tests, and many educators have agreed. But teachers and schools were unable to do much about it, except point out that testing was crowding out learning.
In 2015, the administration got the message and proclaimed that there will be less emphasis on testing, to much acclaim from parents, students and educators. How it will be implemented is yet to be seen, but the goal is laudable and we’d like to see more learning time in the years to come.
We at Meemli build our courses with a bigger focus on learning than testing, and are happy to see it become more mainstream – it helps to reinforce our commitment!
Kids Should Have Play Time
While there have been numerous studies on the benefits of play, especially for young children, play time has been steadily displaced by more study time, even for pre-school tots. The message that play is learning has either not been heard or has been abandoned due to the overemphasis on testing (see above), with many negative consequences.
But, all is not lost. Parents, and educators, are inspired by articles like this one, which shows how Finland, which is at the top of the academic rankings, is exclusively focused on learning through play in the early years. Meemli believes that play helps in developing critical skills and we’re happy that playtime is making a comeback.
We love this set of photos of playgrounds of the world from The Atlantic – we think you would too!
Common Core Math Makes Sense
The Common Core provides a set of standards in math and English language arts for each grade level, with the expectation that students should have mastered those standards at the end of the school year. The Internet is buzzing with numerous confused parents, some teachers, and many in the general public, sharing stories of simple math problems, which they believe have been solved in an unnecessarily complicated way due to the Common Core.
The traditional thinking is that it is important to know how to solve the problem, but Common Core methods guide the child into understanding the mechanics and concepts of math and learning why a solution works, which builds the child’s capacity to solve other, even different, problems. This approach resonates with us at Meemli as we believe understanding, not rote memorization, is crucial for 21st century challenges.
Watching this video from Vox is a good way for parents and others to understand how Common Core methods help students learn math in a thoughtful way. Check it out!
We hope you enjoyed these stories as much as we did. We look forward to more thoughtful, playful, learning success in 2016!