CHILDREN AND LEARNING
A child learning to talk notices a thousand times a day the difference between the language he uses and the language those around him use. Bit by bit, he makes the necessary changes to make his language like other people’s. In the same way, children learn to do all the other things without being taught – to walk, run, climb, whistle, ride a bicycle – by comparing their own performances with those of more skilled people, and slowly making the needed changes.
Yet, at school we never give a child a chance to find out his mistakes for himself, let alone correct them. We do it all for him. We act as if we think that he will never notice a mistake unless it is pointed out to him, or correct it unless he is made to. Soon, he becomes dependent on the teacher. Let him work out, with other children if he wants, what this word means, whether this is a good way of saying or doing this or not.
In mathematics or science, give him the answer book. Let him correct his own papers. Our job should be to show only the way to get the right answer when the child tells us he can’t find a way himself. Let’s end all this nonsense of grades, exams, marks. Let us throw them all out, and let the children learn what all educated persons must some day learn, how to measure their own understanding, how to know what they know or do not know.
The idea that there is a body of knowledge to be learnt at school and used for the rest of one’s life is nonsense in a world as complicated and rapidly changing as ours. Anxious parents and teachers say, “But suppose they fail to learn something essential, something they will need to get on in the world?” Don’t worry! If it is essential, they will go out into the world and learn it.
Mark the best choice.
1. What does the writer think is the best way for children to learn things?
a) Observing what other people do.
b) Having their mistakes corrected.
c) Listening to explanations from skilled people.
d) Having various skills taught.
2. The passage suggests that learning to speak and learning to ride a bicycle .
a) require more time than other skills to develop
b) can develop more easily than adult skills
c) are quite different from learning adult skills
d) are basically the same
3. The writer believes that teachers should .
a) always tell children the correct answers
b) point out children’s mistakes to them
c) encourage children to get help from one another
d) measure children’s understanding
4. Children’s progress at school should only be estimated by .
a) educated persons
c) teachers and parents
b) the children themselves
d) the changing world
5. The author fears that children will grow up into adults who are
a) too independent of others
c) unable to think for themselves
b) too critical of themselves
d) unable to use essential information