I’ve had plenty of tests, quizzes and exams throughout my life. I hardly remember any of it. However, I know how to do my job as well as I know my own name. Why? Because I actually did something with what I learned. So I’m passing this information onto to you, so you know what it really means to know something.
First of all, schools need to stop using the word learn and start using know. Learning by definition means to acquire knowledge and the trouble with school is kids always seems to be stuck in that process, but they’ve never really gotten to the point where know something. I strongly believe that if we teach kids correctly we can get them to remember lessons like they back of their hand. However, we can’t do that if all we do is teach them step 1 and leave out steps 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
For example, instead of just giving a kid a piece of paper with fractions and telling him to add and subtract them. Why not tell him to cut a pie and ask him to tell you how many fractions it’s in? Which do you think the kid will remember better? The paper or the good smelling, warm, fresh, pie? I would even take it a step further and ask the kid to create a game that has to deal with possibilities. To me, that’s a lot more memorable than a piece of paper. I would know because this is what my teacher wanted our class to do when I was little and to this day I remember it pretty well. Kids would have suckers standing straight up on a cardboard box and if the sucker had a dot on the bottom you got to keep it and if it didn’t you had to put it back.
There are so many projects for kids and high schoolers alike and we could learn so much more if we just did more of them. It could even benefit the community, some schools even have gardens to help kids learn. Not only do they learn gardening and health benefits of growing fruits and vegetables, but they also get to move around instead of sitting down all day. The Real Gardens is a organization that helps create gardens for schools and their site shows many other benefits the students get from it. Even an increase in test scores, however, I think if students are given enough projects, tests should no longer be necessary.
I know to some people this could seem like a big stretch, but think about it. Let’s say you want to make soap, so you go on YouTube and look at videos to make it. You do lots of research on it and find the resources to make make it. Then the day finally comes when you made it, but let’s say you made a few mistakes and you did it over again. Let’s say the second time was perfect, but to make sure you remember it, you do it again. Wouldn’t it be easier to just do something again to remember it rather than quizzing yourself? Do you see cooks, potters, and photographers getting out a notebook to quiz themselves? No! People learn best by doing and we will always learn best by doing. Yet there is another argument that projects take up too much time and some teachers tend to veer away from it.
I believe that if we find the right project for kids it could benefit the community as well as the students. For example, we could use the fruits and vegetables the kids grow and give them to the community. We could teach them about marketing by showing them how to make products like duct tape pencil pouches, paracord bracelets, useful pottery etc. All of which are products that people do buy and they’re already serious businesses out there that create them.
Kids aren’t puppies to me. They are only partially dependent on adults and I think they could do a lot more for us at an earlier age than we might think. Some projects may dive deep into a school’s pockets, but if we find the right ones, we could find a way to get that money to cycle back to them.