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Thursday, May 31, 2012

I.Q. vs. Problem Solving

So, I was watching a youtube video by Mwalimu Baruti who is both an educator and activist among other things. He spoke a little about I.Q. (Rote Learning) and Problem Solving. After I got done denying that I hadn't taught my children problem solving skills, I really starting to think about the impact that a lack of problem solving skills could have.

Schools today believe in giving grades for participation, showing up to class, and having a positive attitude. When I was in school you were expected to do all of the aforementioned AND do you work and do it well. How do I know? Because I wasn't the best student. Academically I did pretty well. I had some rough patches, but they were either because of behavior or when I transitioned in to A.G. classes where I was actually required to work and study. I rarely participated unless I really liked the teacher. I would show up late until they started locking us out for being late, because then they would call my mother and that was a no-go. Most times my attitude was less than positive and I had a quick wit *read "smart mouth* and still do to this day. If I were in school right now, I probably would have been pushed through the system thanks to "No Child Left Behind".

All that to say that when we got a grade, we had earned it by doing the work. In math class I asked my teacher why I needed to take trigonometry and for the first time I was told that it would teach me to problem solve. Suddenly for me there was a shift. I still hated the math and she sucked as a teacher, but now I viewed it as a challenge and it wasn't so bad. Now, memorization is glorified and nobody cares if you are dumb as a rock. E.O.G.'s are proof of that. Many of our children won't even try to figure anything out. Rather than looking a word up, they want you to just tell them. Rather than trying to solve a math problem in different ways, they sit and stare at the page waiting for it to jump out at them. I also blame television and video games. I remember my Mama playing games with me, I would read VOLUNTARILY, and play with my dolls. My children think I'm mean because there are so many things that I don't allow. I see what it's doing to other people's children so, although we seem strange and strict to other people, I try to make a habit of paying attention to patterns. The same people who tell me that I am to strict and protective are the same ones who will say, "You're children are so respectful and mature. I wish my children were like that." TURN OFF THE TELEVISION. Stop letting other people tell you children what to think, how to act, and what's important.

I'm all of topic. I'm sorry. I was trying to get to my experience yesterday and today with teaching from a problem solving perspective. Long story short, since I done "talked" your ear off, both my children melted down at least once on both days. The root was SO CLEAR. They had assignments that required them to think, and I realized that I had been doing the work for them in some ways. I would rescue them rather than walk them through it after giving them a REAL chance to THINK about the different options to solve the problems. As I kept telling them to think about the problem before asking for help, they seemed to get used to it. I am so grateful for this lesson. I doesn't mean that I am taking a hands off approach either. Quite the opposite. It means that I am even more involved because there is much work to be done to undo the laziness that I have allowed to take root.

We only have our children under our direct care for a short time, and even though they may not like or appreciate it, we must help them learn to solve problems so that little by little they can help us to get out of this mess we are in. They are indeed our future and our hope and we must ensure that they are well equipped to fulfill their destinies.