1. These children have never seen the Twin Towers on the New York skyline. They have always known September 11th as a memorial holiday.
What is your theory of learning? From your perspective, how do people learn? What are the important processes?
Learning, in my opinion, is something that truly cannot be taught by a teacher to a student. The student must learn how to think critically about the challenges that are presented by the teacher in her own way, because there is no ‘one right way’ to think. Just as many roads lead to Rome, there are many paths to learn a concept. There have been theories around for decades that champion the idea that people are either kinesthetic, auditory, or visual learners, and while not entirely accurate, they are not untrue either. Some people need to run through the situation mentally, others need to write down all alternatives, others can absorb information by hearing it in lecture, etc. etc. etc. But the traditional system that involves schools educating students in the same manner, every day most likely leaves many students in the dust because they simply cannot process the information presented.
In saying that, simply being able to parrot back the information covered in class is not ‘learning’ per se. It’s a stepping stone towards understanding the concept, for sure, but until the student can create something new with the raw information, the information is but words threaded together. We use echolalia as a symptom of autism, but we praise students when they can repeat the correct factual answer back at us teachers. The reason many students prefer multiple choice exams over essays is simple: the act of recognizing the correct answer is easier than formulating a coherent response and synthesizing ideas. But there are more ways for students to show their ability to synthesize the lesson’s information than essays-which is a predominant aspect of this course.
In conclusion, students can only truly feel that they have learned a concept if they can successfully use the information to synthesize something entirely new, whether it be an essay, a project, or a website. This trip through Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures that the student can successfully store the lesson in their memory, in their arsenal of information, to be used at a later date. If a student cannot answer the age old parent question “What did you learn today?” successfully, it signifies that we, as teachers, and they, as students, need to reevaluate our school system.
How I Learned to Make Pralines
For those of us who were fortunate enough to have grown up in the Southern states, pecan pralines are as much of a staple as SEC football or yellow pollen in March. However, I was born in Columbus, Ohio. Both of my parents, and all of their parents, and most of grandparents were also born in the North. I had never even heard of a pecan praline until when I went on my first trip to Savannah, Georgia during the summer that I was 12 years old. In the famous River Street Sweets Shop, I had my first sugary, nutty, and sweet praline, and it was love at first bite. So for that Christmas, my mother and I attempted to recreate the taste sensation that we had experienced so that our out-of-town relatives could enjoy a taste of the South.
American pralines are made with brown sugar, cream, butter, and pecans. What gives the dessert its signature texture and taste is the tricky technique of boiling the sugar mixture and pouring it back out on wax paper. Sugar is a tricky substance to boil-it goes very quickly from a sweet, smooth substance to a burnt mess. The praline recipe I was using involves boiling the thick sugar mixture for 25 minutes while stirring vigorously. In addition, the chef has to stir the entire mixture-not just the top, but also the sides and bottom. Whoever said baking desserts wasn’t a workout had obviously never spent much time in the kitchen at all!
My first attempt at pralines coincided with the television premiere of some movie that I had wanted to see for the longest time. I think it starred Will Smith, but I don’t remember which one. The television in our den is the opposite direction from the stovetop, which caused me to turn around and try to watch the movie as I was making pralines (This was before the advent of TiVo and DVR technology, of course.) As the movie progressed, my arm got increasingly sore from stirring the thick, boiling sugar. I began to slack off in my stirring, missing the sides and bottom and rotating slower and slower. Suddenly, a horrible smell came to my attention and I realized that the stench was the signature scent of scorched sugar. I tried to turn off the stovetop and remove the large soup tureen I was working with (I had intended to make many, many pralines) to save the dessert, but to no avail. The sugar had completed its chemical transformation to a black brick, and it took the pot with it. There were no pralines that night.
If at first you don’t succeed, you should try, try again, right? So the next Christmas, I tried again. I paid more attention, allowed for no distractions in the kitchen, and made sure that I was using the correct stirring technique. But, maybe the pot was the wrong kind of metal, or maybe the heat was too high, for I again ruined the praline mixture. I had learned my lesson-I would never, ever be a candy chef. That year, I also learned how to order pralines from the annual River Street Sweets catalog and have them shipped to the house. Some things are better left to the professional confectioners!