Consider how physical education teachers teach basketball. That's right -- think about how basketball is taught and learned and how we might apply those processes to other subjects taught in schools.
Imagine parents at the dinner table asking their young son or daughter that age-old question "What did you learn in school today?" The child shrugs, as children often do, and says, "We learned to play basketball." The parents then ask, "How did you do that?" The child answers, "Well, we sat in the gym and the teacher passed out these books, and we turned to chapter one, about passing the basketball, and we learned there are three types of passes: the bounce pass, the chest pass, and the one-handed pass."
"OK," parents would say, wanting to know more, "what happened next?" The child continues, "We read the next chapter about dribbling. And another chapter on shooting. We learned there’s the set shot, the bank shot, and the jump shot." After a few minutes of this recitation, the parents, increasingly exasperated, challenge their child: "But did the teacher ever give you a basketball and let you go on the court and play?" "No,” the child says with a sigh. "We just read the book until the bell rang."
No parent in America would stand for this, for sports to be taught to their children only through reading and through memorizing basketball terminology. Sports require observing oneself performing and watching others perform. Coaches and athletes routinely make use of videotape analysis of games to improve performance. Yet millions of parents settle for science, mathematics, history, and many other subjects taught through rote memorization of vocabulary from textbooks, and students never get a chance to actively perform real science or conduct authentic historical study.Maybe more teachers should take lessons from the gym.
Adapted from: A Modest Curriculum Proposal Let’s teach basketball with textbooks. by Milton Chen
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