We’re so used to doing it the ‘traditional’ way - teachers standing at the front of the room, kids all sitting facing the teacher, hanging on their every word, speaking only occasionally and only when their hands are raised, one at a time (unless
of course they’re an unruly bunch!).
Even in our adult lives we experience the same ‘normal’ set up - Ted Talks, meetings, lectures, presentations.
I get it, someone needs to be ‘in charge’, the ‘leader’ if you will and I’m totally with you on that. What I’m throwing out there though, is the concept of ‘mixing it up’. There’s no rule book anywhere that says the only way to make sure kids learn everything they need to know is if someone stands at the front of them, talking at them hour upon hour, day after day, month after month, year after year. I also appreciate there’s experiments and activities thrown in there for good measure too.
However, the majority of the time, the teacher holds court and I’m curious to explore what that kind of approach might be teaching our kids, here’s a few things that come to mind:
That kids’ voices/opinions don’t count
That kids’ voices/opinions don’t matter
That only adults have all the answers
That there’s only one way of thinking
That the only way to get your message across, is to effectively, dominate.
Now you might say ‘it’s what they’re used to’ and ‘they don’t know any differently’ but that’s kind of my point, it’s just like so many other things in life, going with the status quo, without really considering if there’s another or god forbid, a better way!
Many experts from Sanford, Cornell, Harvard and Duke all say that peer to peer learning is the most effective way for students to learn, for a myriad of reasons:
When you teach a peer a subject, you learn more about it
They develop skills in organising and planning learning activities
Collaboratively giving and receiving feedback
You can’t teach another person, unless you’ve truly understood the subject matter yourself which means they will automatically deepen their understanding in order to be able to share effectively and as a result, retain the information for longer.
Peers feel more comfortable to open up and interact with their peers over a teacher
Peers have a greater connection due to their similar position within the school
Improves communication skills
Increases their understanding of the subject matter
Seems like a worthy approach to try, don’t you think?