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.


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