When you hear that word what comes to mind?
Some words in my mind are -- old, passed down, old-fashioned, boring. When I think of traditional, I think of an old church sanctuary with an organ playing in the background, women wearing hats, and men in suits. I think of quiet Sundays, soup for lunch, and lots of coffee times. I also think of an old school house with students sitting quietly and properly in their seats, the teacher at the front (wearing glasses and her hair in a bun of course) pointing to the chalkboard as the students learn through rote.
Are any of these traditional views bad? I don't think so. However, I do think that they give a wrong sense of the word traditional. While the traditional church setting is a good topic for another post, specifically I want to talk about the way these traditional views give an incorrect picture of the classroom setting. They give a persona that a traditional classroom is 'boring', 'uninspiring', and for a lack of a better word...simply 'blah'.
Traditional became traditional for a good reason - it worked. The way traditional was passed down may have brought aspects to it that are not helpful or beneficial. However, this does not make traditional learning a corrupt way of learning. Change is good -- don't get me wrong. Check out my post on how I learned to be more of an Open-Minded Teacher to see my view on change in classroom methods. However, why change and completely forget the old? The traditional? Is this not counter productive as it prevents us from learning the techniques of the past?
I am a strong believer in certain traditional teaching ways. This includes traditional worksheets and traditional rote learning. Of course, I do not believe this is the only way to teach or that this is the only way the classroom should be learning. Even so, these methods should definitely not be cut out completely from learning. Unfortunately in some classrooms I have seen them being taken less seriously and even being eliminated more and more. This is true especially of time spent working on worksheets.
Worksheets hold value in these three ways:
1. Students remember what they learn. Do you ever find that when you are listening to a podcast, a sermon, or a documentary you are able to retain the information better when writing down the points? It is well known that when we write down what we are learning we are able to be much better at retaining the information. How is this different from kids learning in a classroom? They too need to be able to retain information and by filling out worksheets they are taking the time to process their learning. I believe this to be true even as young as Grade 1. While for them, their way of worksheets may be closer to drawing with very simple sentences, they are still learning the value of remembering through recording what they have learned.
2. Students learn the discipline of learning. Learning takes discipline...it takes hard work. By taking away the chance for the students to sit and write (or draw if they are younger) they are only learning that they do not have to spend time on the hard work of learning. Yes this may be the more 'boring' part of learning, but it is also an incredibly beneficial time in our classrooms.
3. Learning becomes more than just games. Learning IS fun and SHOULD BE fun. However, like stated in number 2, it IS work as well. I truly believe we need to have hands on and experiential learning in our classrooms. Yet we also need to allow our students to take the time to sit, think, and write about what they learned. This allows for a more solid and individual processing time
It is important that we remember the value that the traditional way of teaching holds. As we progress with further ideas and ways of carrying out information to our students, let us not forget the worth that the 'old-fashioned' ways had.
**Stay tuned for another post on Traditional Teaching, focusing on Rote Learning**
Liked this post? Check out some of my past posts on teaching: