The Learning Environment

I”m going to gripe about our modern classroom again. I’m sure people are getting a bit tired of it, but I want to start instilling a sense of awareness into people. How we “teach” our children now accomplishes nothing, especially here in the US. I don’t put stock into test scores, but scores aside, our children rarely speak more than their native language, often can’t communicate well orally or in writing and are often stumped by simple math, such as what you’d find in a recipe. Our children need to be able to function in everyday life, and public school, regardless of the income level of its patrons, needs to provide that.

How do people learn best? By doing. Someone standing in front of a group speaking facts and figures at that group prepares the group for nothing. The more time children spend practicing the principles they’re being taught, the more information they will retain. If the children feel uncomfortable or intimidated in their learning environment, the less they will retain.

Bullying in school has received quite a bit of attention over the last several years. If a child is being bullied, s/he will feel afraid, frustrated, uncomfortable and many other negative feelings in his/her learning environment. This will seriously hinder the learning process. Over the last several years, I’ve seen a lot of attention being directed toward the victims of bullying. The bullies are painted in a negative light and treated like criminals. It seems as if no one even cares why these children are bullying others to begin with. Did it ever occur to anyone that these acts of violence could be a cry for help in disguise? Did anyone ever stop to think that these children may be bullied at home? It’s wrong to assume that a child will simply pick violence up from television or music lyrics and pass that on to their peers. For a child to bully or become truly violent, they need first hand experience with violence.

If a child has an unhappy home life, it will impair his/her ability to learn as well. Feeling comfortable in his/her environment is key to positive learning. A positive self-image and confidence in his/her own abilities helps, too. If a child feels like a burden on his/her parents, if the parents use physical punishment on a regular basis, if the people around him/her say negative things about the child or his/her abilities, it can seriously hinder the learning process. People really lose sight of how badly their words can hurt. Calling a child stupid for making a mistake can have very lasting effects.

Parents need to understand that teaching their children does not end when the school bell rings. Children are always learning, whether the adults are actively teaching them or not. Parents need to collaborate with teachers and school officials and be an active, positive part of their children’s learning experience. Trying to control every aspect of school and home will only make the child more uncomfortable and less likely to learn. Help the child to learn be being there to answer questions, encourage positive results and applaud accomplishments. Do not steer children away from their interests, expand those interests to include them into other things that you might find more practical. By squelching their interests, you squelch their desire to learn. Once you blow that flame out, you may never be able to light it again.


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