Many students having got high grades at school and at university become confused facing real problems in their life. They know a lot but they cannot use their knowledge practically. The best student cannot find a way out of a difficult situation in his/her life. What is the problem? Are high grades a real indicator of his/her competence?
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A lot of students get accustomed to swot up dry facts and ready conclusions. Whose conclusions do students learn by rote? Why are they obligatory to learn conclusions of this or that scientist if students have their own brains to conclude? In fact, one day one researcher provided his/her conclusions on the definite subject and one of his/her followers used his/her results in next researches and these imposed conclusions are passed on from one generation to another. Have you ever thought about the accuracy of all information which you are taught at school or at university? Of course, every student trusts his/her teacher. That is why this responsibility for the reliability of information belongs to a teacher. On the other hand, instead of teaching students to muse on and make their own conclusions, teachers demand the rote-learning of hackneyed statements (Loewen, p. 293). Most teachers think that students are not ready to make their own researchers and conclusions. When will they become ready? It will be late when they face some trouble and get lost looking for its solving. They get accustomed to find ready and clear answers for their questions in printed matters. It will be a great disappointment if they do not find such answers one day. There will be not clear answers for all our life questions in books. More than that looking for such answers you will realize that there is a wide range of different interpretations of one and the same subject. Whose interpretation is correct? It is a controversial question. Everyone is right in his/her own way.
Everyone may think that if the matter concerns such subjects as mathematics, physics, chemistry, there are no debatable questions. There is a wide range of rules and formulae which students are to learn by heart. Having read the history of great inventions and discoveries, we may come to the conclusion that one invention refuted the previous one. Our world is not studied yet from every quarter. It is even impossible to perceive all secrets of our world. But who will make new inventions and discoveries if the students are not taught to analyze and refute previous statements? How can they dare to judge such great scientists? It should be taken into account that even great people can make mistakes.
As for such subjects as literature, history and other humanities, the situation is quite similar. Of course, it is necessary to learn by heart historical dates and events. We were not the witnesses of the historic events which we study at lessons on history. Nevertheless, there are a lot of different interpretations and even divergences in dates. Where do students find the truth? Is it possible? If students are taught to think they will have their own point of view received during long speculations and profound researches.
The best way to teach students to think is the problem-posing method provided by Paolo Freire (p. 62). This method helps the students to perceive the surrounding world not so much as static but as a reality. He opposes this method to the banking one which presupposes a bank-clerk model when teachers are compared with ‘depositors’ and students are ‘depositories’ (Freire, p. 56). The information just fill up students’ minds without explaining its meaning and purposes. As the result, students know the history of the discovery of America, but they do not know how this story concerns them. American history books elevate historical figures to the status of heroes that cause an impression of inaccessibility of the past (Loewen, p. 190). History is apprehended as the epic poem glorifying its heroes. It was decided beforehand what historical characters were considered as heroes and who were traitors and enemies. Someone’s subjective opinion is imposed on students. Many historical facts are interpreted to show to the best advantage the own nation and government. Every student is taught to be proud of the history of his/her country without taking into account the failures and mistakes of its politicians. The history is presented from a positive view like an invented story with a happy end. Those days have already passed and everything is good. Students study history in the same way as literature. They read all these historical facts as an interesting and captivating fairy-tale. Such pure optimism, misinformation and blind patriotism expressing in the textbooks on history prevent students from thinking critically (Loewen, p. 14).
James Loewen proposes the solving of this problem. History should be taught in direct correlation with a real life. Students should analyze the events of the past and what consequences they have caused in a real life. What would be if there had not been this or that historical event or this politician had not came to the power? The problem-posing methods may be practiced at the history lessons as well as on other subjects (Freire, p. 67). Discussion is the best way to find the right conclusion. This method teaches students to think and to be able to express their opinions in an appropriate way. Every teacher should give an opportunity for every student to express his/her ideas whether they will be right or wrong. The outstanding politician Harri Holkeri says: “Discussion is just a tool. You have to aim; the final goal must be a decision”.
Education should aim at the preparing students for a real life, to create competent members of society who can think and make their own conclusions. As Paolo Freire states: “you need to develop a power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves…” (89). Every student should have his/her own opinion and be able to prove it using his knowledge from history, literature and other sciences. Education should be the main method of the developing of students’ creative potential. Teachers should prepare future inventors and researchers.
- Freire, Paolo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Britain: Penguin Books, 1996. Print.
- Loewen, James. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: Touchstone, 1996. Print.