Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 4, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD, MONDAY, MAY 4, Managing The Learning Process S. W. HOOPER, BJ5C.. M.A. Superintendent of Schools County of Lethbridge No. 28 "To make our school a viable institution, to make it relevant to the needs of our students, our teachers stopped teaching so fliat students could begin learn- ing." This is a paraphrase a statement made in a gathering I recently attended, a state- ment made by an eminent edu- cator. I found ffi rather a startling Statement, as I expect it was in- tended to be. Surely schools ex- ist, and have always existed so that learning might, take place, and not to give a teacher a posi- tion so that he might hold the stage, or perform his thing. A statement often made of Hie teacher and the teaching profession is that "we teach as we were taught." This state- ment is followed by another, "that it takes fifty years to im- plement a better method of teach ing." Considering the scene in this province and lo- cally, what with directives from departmental officials and local administrators, university in- fluence, Ux! new School Act and de Foundjition Program for fi- nancing schools, there is the suggestion that methods will be revolutionized in three or four years. But to get to the initial state- ment which implies a dichoto- my in teaching and learning, I would postulate that teaching is and always has been "manag- ing of the learning selecting what is to be learn- ed, and employing those meth- ods which best produce learn- ing by the student. The teach- er uses his resources at hand and his knowledge of the learn- ing process to the best of his ability. If there be a change in resources or if the teaming process be better un- derstood through findings from research into the process, then there should be a change in teaching method, a change hi management of learning. EARLY DAYS My grandfather told me that when he went to school, the only books in the school were a few Bibles. My father remark- ed that he had a "reader." They telling me how lucky I was, a grade five pupil, to have a reader and arithmetic book, a geography book, and a physiol- ogy text. My children had sev- eral more texts and hi their schools were small collections of books called "libraries." Each generation faced a teach- er, and the teacher faced number of pupils. The school environment was what society felt it could afford them what materials were available at the time. The teacher managed the learning process as best he could with the materials at hand. In my grandfather's day, it was a few Bibles and in mine, four textbooks. Tire teacher probably knew quite a bit more, so his method was to tell what he knew. He then wrote it on the blackboard, and students copied in into note- books so that we had ouf own texts. These were texts we could read. Quite often those provided were too as textbook writers wrote "for adults, not for the grade five level. To help us learn to read, the teacher might read from the text while we followed, reading silently, (or daydream- Since of necessity, learn- ing was accomplished through telJing followed by memorizing or practice, all were told togeth- er. It was full class instruction or grade instruction. This was the way learning was managed and for that school environ- ment, it was considered good teaching. And the pupils learn- ed, acquiring information and skills in varying degrees. OTHER METHODS It is this view of management of learning which was equated with teaching by the speaker. He and his staff now manage the learning process differently, that is, they employ other methods of teaching. In the 1920s and 30s, many educators were aware that what passed for teaching in those days was far from effec- tive. Many schemes were plan- ned, and many experiments were conducted to find a way to get to the single pupa to meet his needs. A concerted effort was made in Alberta in the late 30s and early 40s un- der the name of the Enterprise method of teaching. It failed; It w a s a library centred method and we had no libraries. The school environment is different today, of can be. There has been a vast improve- ment hi school libraries. Mate- rials available which can aid in learning are innumerable: The book, and the magazine written at specified levels of difficulty, the 16mm film, the film strip, slides produced by the teacher, models, the overhead projector, machines which duplicate pic- tures and worksheets, the tape recorder, the listening centre, the television program and the video tape recorder. We can mention the school bus which makes the "field trip" a prac- ticality. I expect that the com- puter will make its way into this listing eventually, but I haven't yet figured out how it will be used. What goes into the classroom and scliooi is, of course, what society feels it can afford. But much is going in and it is for the teacher to manage the learn ing situation for the in- dividual pupil so that his -learn- ing will be at a maximum. The new materials and equipment, coupled with professional knowledge of the learning pro- cess, can accomplish much. Years of poverty in the class- room produced a type of teach- ing (or learning management) which we experienced as stu- dents, and which we practiced hi our earlier years of teaching. Will we continue to teach as we were taught, or will we learn to use the new relatively rich en- vironment in the classroom to better manage the learning pro- cess of the individuals who face us. This is a challenge. It is a challenge too, to so- ciety to make that environment a rich environment. We must not forget that our young peo- ple, age six through sixteen, are a captive audience, taken from homes which range from abun- dance to poverty. Those who come from the affluent home must not be bored by a penur- ious policy of supplying our schools. More important still, those from the less affluent homes must be given an equal chance with their more fortun- ate classmates to 1 e a r n what this world is all about. In oar new school, have teachers stopped teaching so that learning can take place? If teaching is only telling and reading and marking a regur- gitation of facts for ranking purposes, I hope so! But if teaching is equated with man- agement of learning, the task now becomes one of skillfully diagnosing pupils needs, and of intensive preparation and plan- ning of assignments to meet those needs using all the equip- ment, materials, and profes- sional know-how available. I can say that many teachers are accepting this challenge. Teacher Frustration Many Albertans hi the past year have been -exposed to a great deal of publicity sur- rounding the present educa- tional system. Rising expendi- tures, curriculum revisions, un- p a r a 11 e led knowledge explo- sion, and the controversial re- vised School Act are the major problems pressing the modern system. Equal emphasis and atten- tion, however, should be given to one of the important com- ponents of education, the class- room teacher. The contem- porary teacher has been con- fronted with two major prob- lems: teacher militancy and leadership. Among the teachers of Alber- ta there is a growing problem of despair, frustration and. dis- content manifested in the form of teacher militancy. The Executive Secretary of the Al- berta T e a c h e r's Association, Dr. Keeler, clearly, defines the three main sources of teacher militancy: 1. Increasingly bur densome workload and expectations ac- companied by a decreasing sen- se of accomplishment. 2. Insistence on their right as persons affected by decisions to be involved in the making of de- cisions. 3. The conflict between bu- reaucracy and professionalism; that is, teachers claim the right to make certain educational de- cisions and that right stems from special knowledge and ex- pertise. It is abundantly clear to all concerned that teacher discon- tent and frustration is based on the following points financial rewards, status hi socie- ty, working conditions, and an equal share in the making of educational decisions. This mili- tant behavior of teachers is a means of accomplishing their major objectives which many feel are justified. The second crucial problem facing the contemporary teach- er is simply the student. It is readily admitted that this is nothing new to many teachers, particularly the ones with ex- tensive experience and service. But stDl, the strong, the reli- able, and the confident teacher in the schools of today re- mains perplexed, alarmed, and confused about the problem of student unrest An ever increasing number of secondary students are chal- lenging authority, demanding the right of dissent, and insist- ing on the right to participate hi determining school rules and curriculum. Compounding the situation for the student is the painful. conflict that presently exists between the parent and the child. The frequent reaction of parents to the common be- havior of today's youth is com- plete anguish and bewilder- ment. Unfortunately, many par- ents feel the goals and aspira- tions of their children are irra- tional and unacceptable. Thus- ly is created an alarming situa- tion called the "genera tion gap." There can be no doubt in any- one's mind, particularly the professional teacher, that to completely or even partially ig- nore this student problem would be potentially dangerous, and a profound tragedy. Precariously situated between these two opposing groups is the teacher. One quickly real- izes the delicate and vulnerable position of the teacher who is hard pressed, to fulfill the press- ing educational goals of the par- ents while attempting to facili- tate the demands of today's youth. It is surely not an enviable position for the teacher, but many firmly believe that the contemporary teacher will be the catalyst for bridging the generation gap. The reasonable demand of teachers to have an active and important role in educational decisions im imperative, and toe teachers, furthermore, must also accept rhe leadership task hi attempting to bridge this gap. When considering the problems briefly outlined, it is abundantly evident that the teacher of today must meet the increasingly difficult respon- sibility and leadership in edu- cation. The failure of the genera] public to fully understand and accept the problems of teachers will adversely affect the main purpose of. education the stu- dent Evan Evans President County of Lethbridge ATA Local No. 21. Encouraging Our Teenagers If I asked, "why do I have to read 'School and you re- plied, "If I have to tell you, you don't need to know" would I be excused if I thought the reply too ponderous? And it is proper grammar to end a sen- tence with the word 'of.' Two examples: to develop the atti- tude and skills spoken 'of and high school student can be the master 'of.' Then we have, 'ask is that it is possible to train them.' Is this a question or stat- ment of act? "Student's Comments" has the names of nine students at- tached but there are seven 'com- ments' from persons unknown. .Do Grade 10 and 12 students have to get help from either the teachers or the press? We are dealing with teenagers and to improvise is an insult to their intelligence. Whether by act of impulse or design there is an opportunity to encourage the journalistic endeavors st the teenagers. Fisher.