Archive for the ‘teaching and learning’ Category

So I started teaching the new Law class. I am really enjoying the class and the change of pace from a ‘open-level’ course to a University level one. I am going to challenge them a bit. For homework (yes, I can assign homework in this class and it might actually get done), I asked them to read an article from an academic journal (they didn’t know what that was). My plan for this class is that it cannot be a simple “I teach this and two weeks later you regurgitate the information in a test”. University is not like that beyond first year classes (and only for testing, labs/assignments are not knowledge-based, but critically thinking based). I know I will get a little bit of resistance at first, but really I don’t care as they will probably thank me next year (as I thanked my own English teachers for pushing us in our Grade 13/OAC classes).


Case in point, I gave my Co-op students a Health and Safety package to work one. One of the sheets asked the students to identify a WHMIS symbol, name a hazard of that symbol and where one could find this symbol on a product (i.e. Flammable/Combustible = fire = gasoline). Because the answers were not in the information pack I gave them, a few of them couldn’t figure out the answers, or basically use their heads and think. The ability to think critically and look up information that you don’t know is a skill that is lacking in many students, both work-bound and university-bound.


My Principal gave the teaching staff a list of ’21st Century skills’ that we should focus on when designing our courses.  The skills are:


* Collaboration

* Creativity and innovation

* Communication

* Character development

* Critical thinking

* Computing technology

*  Cross-cultural understanding


We were asked to give our input on which skills we should focus on/are more important.  Critical thinking came up as number one.  I believe that it is a skills that should be taught, but also that it takes time to teach.  It isn’t something you can just throw into a lesson once or twice so you can say “woohoo, I taught Critical thinking”.  It should be a skill that you focus on everyday, or at least once a week.  Even though it may be frustrating at first if students do not take it up right away, it will pay off in the end for both you and the student.

Read Full Post »