Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Worksheets Are Not A Substitue For Teaching



Prentice Hall ruined our math students in more ways than one. The poor quality of the text book forced teachers to hand out worksheets every day. The students got in the habit of never opening a book. Prentice Hall encouraged individual work. The students got in the habit of doing sheet after sheet after sheet. They forgot how to listen to the teacher. They forgot how to think.

I'm old fashioned. I really believe kids come to school to be taught. The teachers job is to model the problems and to explain along the way. A good teacher will be able to have the class develop the concepts along with her. Thinking is the most valuable skill these kids need to learn. Worksheets did not teach this. I've watched the wrong answers spread quicker than a forest fire. I've seen kids hand in perfect papers and not have a clue how to arrive at an answer.

A few days ago I gave my geometry class a worksheet, something I rarely do. It was as strange day and many of them were absent. I didn't feel comfortable teaching anything new. The kids loved working on it but I did not teach. I walked around and helped them. I made sure they stayed on target but I did not teach. I did not earn my salary that day.

3 comments:

17 (really 15) more years said...

Wait- are you trying to tell me that teacher centered, whole group lessons actually have some value? That a 10 minute mini-lesson followed by students working alone is not effective? Did I mention that I actually feel guilty when I do a whole group lesson?

Anonymous said...

Yes! I would call you old-fashioned and uninformed. Perhaps you have not heard that not everybody learns in the same way. Why is "worksheet" synonymous with fluff? In my mind teachers who scorn the use of worksheets must be arrogant. To think they are the only ones who explain a topic is absurd. Why reinvent the wheel? In fact, the rarity is a student who can complete a worksheet independently. Most tasks in life do not come with a live commentary of the steps necessary.

Pissed Off said...

There is nothing wrong with work sheets except when they are used as a substiute for teaching--which I have seen done too often.