Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)
Gorillas in the mist
Individuals easily jump to conclusions, easily miss things and easily forget things. The author explains the implications of this triple-whammy for teachers. When we are faced with complex problems and incomplete information, our first impulse is to find simple and quick ways to make decisions and judgments, and solve problems. In many routine situations, this desire to operate efficiently serves us well. There are, however, many occasions when deeper levels of thinking are required. Teachers who are deeply interested in attempting to provide for the real learning needs of every student need to reflect on how they think about their students. A teacher's day is always busy and teachers are constantly required to make decisions, come to judgments and solve many problems. This necessarily means making many decisions without having the time or opportunity to gather all relevant information. In such an environment, it is essential that teachers resist the temptation to follow their brains' first impulse to come up with quick and convenient solutions. For their students, teachers need to ensure they do not overload students with too much information at one time; second, if information is not reviewed and revised regularly it will eventually be forgotten. A general recommendation is for students to spend half an hour or so every weekday in review activity. This makes a big difference in how much they understand and retain material. [Author abstract, ed]
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