In “How Children Fail”, the acclaimed author John Holt describes how children stop using their mind, and fail. It is quite evident from the example pic below that the child was using his mind. Unfortunately, the teacher was grading “mindlessly” from the key that he had. This example is not an isolated case. There are scores of examples in the book and of various subjects where this occurs. With these kinds of wrong answers to wrongly phrased/formatted questions, the child learns that it is dangerous to use his mind. It is much better to be solving the problems “mindlessly” to get good grades, instead of “mindful application” which can often result in wrong answers. There are just too many students’ papers to check by the teacher, and too many questions in each paper to give space to the teacher to drill down into the thinking of each child for each answer to see whether the logic in child’s mind was correct or not. Too many failures like this and child stops thinking, and starts resorting to mindless application of formulae which also results in random grades. The child realizes that whether I use my mind or not, my grades are random. It is dangerous to use my mind, the child concludes. This is “How Children Fail” and we see so many people around us proudly proclaiming “I hate maths”.
There are always going to be multiple interpretations of a question. But the teacher doesn’t have time to evaluate all the student’s answer as per the student’s particular interpretation. Too many students, too many interpretations, and too little time with the teacher to check all the students. Hence, standardized tests and confusion of students who use their minds.
If you have children, it is criminal of you NOT to have read John Holt’s books ” How Children Fail” and ‘How Children Learn”.
This has been my advice during thousands of parental counseling sessions for the last 10 years.
WIP: Examples Continued