Sunday, August 31, 2008

Everything Old is New Again (The Rap on Schoolhouse Rock!)

I pulled out my Schoolhouse Rock! dvd last week in class when I was trying to remediate my class in subjects and predicates. I showed then "The Tale of Mr. Morton" which focuses on subjects and predicates. After going through the video a couple times through which I would stop and point out the subject, Mr. Morton, and the predicate, walked up stairs, my students responded with "Oh" and "I get it!"

The next day I gave them a rather simple assessment of subjects and predicates and all but two failed miserably. Obviously they didn't "get it".

I think music and video are wonderful teaching tools. They can really emphasize points and help with memorization. (We use "The Preamble" to help our students memorize the Preamble to the Constitution which they recite as part of their public speaking requirements.) Unfortunately, they are not necessarily the best tool when it comes to application of material in new situations. I remember watching the Schoolhouse Rock! videos when I was a child, but I can't ever remember using them to help me remember anything in grammar, or any other subject. Is it because I failed to make the connection between Saturday cartoons and Monday learning, or is it that it is simply not a natural thing for kids to make those connections?

Whichever the case is, I now realize that if I want them to apply things they learned, they have to learn the material by applying it. Basic knowledge is important, without it we would not be able to learn new things, but critical thinking comes from application, not memorization. Schoolhouse Rock! and other forms of media have their place in the classroom, but they shouldn't be used as the bridge to travel from basic knowledge to application.

No comments: