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Active--not passive--learning should be each school's goal

More than ever before, schools must concern themselves with making sure that students get opportunities to be active rather than passive learners. Television, a great educator, is a passive experience for the viewer.

So are films.

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So, too, spectator sports.

Reading, participating in plays, putting on television shows, being in movies , playing one or more sports, dancing, singing, pupils teaching other pupils, field trips, doing laboratory experiments, practicing a second language with a native speaker, participating in student government, writing stories and poems, building something in the workshop, - all these are active ways to learn.

Time was when children piled out of school in order to be involved in all sorts of creative activities both in and out of doors; time was when most schoolchildren had many after-school chores to do of an active nature; time was when the moment the weather turned nasty a youngster curled up with a book.

Those times have not passed for all children, but there is much evidence that they have for the majority.

For millions of children living in city apartments there really aren't very many house chores to be done. Also, there are few indoor or outside play areas open to them.

And so passive watching of television, substituting make-believe excitement for real entertainment, takes over.

In the US, for example, it has been documented that most children spend more hours in front of a television screen than they do in school.

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Children who do spend so many hours in passivity, will probably resist active learning to a certain extent and need to be shown how to become more involved in their own learning. They may need more encouragment, more enticements, and require rewards to be creative.

We've learned of schools which require that every person in the building stop whatever they are doing for so many minutes in the middle of the day and read. The principal reads, so does the janitor, so does the librarian, as well as every classroom teacher and every single, solitary pupil.

Schools might require a similar daily period for every single person in a given school building to write in a diary. Just as the reading which is done is personal and individually chosen, so should the writing be.

To get this program started, a school might purchase notebooks with 180 pages , providing a page for every school day. Pupils would be expected to keep the notebooks at school for writing there, and be free to take them home at the close of the school year.

Next week: Technological revolution

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