Building a Bridge
I started a comment, and realized it was becoming an essay in and of itself. I made the comment shorter and thought I'd post the essay here.
I'm with you, you can't blame previous teachers for a student's lack of skill or knowledge. Nor can you blame the student, or the teacher. At least, you can't blame any one person (or group) solely. I think the blame lies a little bit in each one. And, perhaps, the blame lies in each student's natural tendencies. Hubby is one of those students who always knew his times tables (still does) even before being taught them at school. I think his mother presented the ideas once and he got them. I, on the other hand, was the child that worked her bum off to learn that 8 times 6 is.... let me think... I'll go back to 6x6 = 36 (I know that), so 7x6 = 42, so 8x6=48, and I am not a particularly slow learner, its just that numbers will not stick in my mind, no matter how hard I work at it. Ask me to make salsa from scratch, and I can get the right number of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic cloves and I can whip up a yummy compliment to tortilla chips in an afternoon. That's easy... Ask Hubby to do the same, and you will see a very lost Hubby.
Please don't hear me saying that a student is bound by his natural tendencies. No, no, no. Any student can venture beyond those boundaries, but it will take extra work. And as humans, I think we are lazy in that way: we like to stick with what comes easily. It's scary to try something that is difficult, its like committing yourself to the unknown.
So, having said all that, I agree with Ms Caldwell that SBG is a solution to this problem. I'm all for SBG, I love the idea, I'm planning on implementing it in my class room this year, and I think it will provide the impetus needed to motivate students to excel at the subject at hand, beyond what comes easily. Perhaps it provides the motivation to work hard enough to venture beyond what you thought possible, in the realm beyond natural tendencies?
I'm very interested in considering the reasons SBG allows for this, especially in students who might no otherwise be willing to try that hard. Some students tend towards learning in general and learning comes easy (generally, I'm that kind of student). Most students are not inclined to just *learn* on their own and most people feel no need to continue to learn beyond the "normal" school years. And while in school, its like pulling teeth for them to learn. How is it that SBG summons that ...intrinsic motivation (?)... that students need?
Anyhoo -- conversations I sure love to have!
PS. I'm debating a blog issue. Should I divide off the teacher essays into its own blog? Or keep it all as one, knowing the blog will be as eclectic as its author?