Are we teaching the wrong way? (I mean, not you and me — I’m not teaching at all, and neither are you, probably.) A fascinating study (here) suggests that the old Puritan system was right after all: hard work brings rewards, what is easy is less valuable.
Or, to put it another (still Puritan, don’t worry, it’s me writing, after all) way: Nothing is fun until you’re good at it.
Here’s the idea. A study has looked at two groups of students who were being taught the same material, over the same period of time, by the same person, with the only difference being that in one group the Powerpoint presentation or handouts were in a typefont that was difficult to read (hello Comic Sans! roll right up, Harlow Solid Italic! — I’d demonstrate, but apparently this blogsite has too much taste to permit me to type in these). The students who had the difficult-to-read presentations did far and away better than those who had the more accessible material.
This is not a plea for crap teaching. It is just a suggestion that spoon-feeding, making learning easy, is in fact making it harder. You can’t learn to play the piano without months of sounding awful. You can’t learn a language without slaving away at irregular verbs (unless you’re four years old). It makes no sense to think we can internalize the details of the Crimean War, or differential calculus, or how to make a soufflé, without working at it. Even playing keepy-uppy takes hours of dedicated practice. So why do we now assure ourselves, and our children, that only ‘fun’ stuff like football needs to be practised?
Working is the fun part. Isn’t it? (Takes off sober Puritan robes. Puts on glitzy Dorothy-on-her-way-to-Oz shoes.)