Saturday, July 5, 2014

The World Cup in the classroom

This week I had the chance to visit a middle school classroom. While observing the class, I was so pleased the teacher was incorporating a lesson about the World Cup, the Olympics of soccer which is taking place right now in Brazil. Being from Argentina, soccer (futbol for us) is my favorite sport. 

But more importantly, I loved this teacher’s approach. I have always advocated that education has to be made interesting and relevant to the students. Delivering a lesson through topics such as sports is interesting for children. Students were listening to the teacher, answering questions, doing some research on the computers and presenting their findings in front of the class. There was no yelling or scolding, not having to continuously repeat directions, no frustration, just a lot of fun enjoyable work and compliance. Subjects like mathematics, geography, history, even science and social studies can easily be taught through topics of interest and experiential learning. For example, I can’t think a better way to teach fractions to fourth and fifth graders than through cooking. All recipes, especially baking, include 1⁄4 cup of something plus 3⁄4 cups of something else. In the case of the this particular class, students were split in groups to work on the computers to find out the number of participating countries, their history in the world cups, statistics and much more. I can guarantee so much information was internalized and yes, I’m talking about a special education class.
As I wrote in my blog “Teaching Teachers”: ( )

“We can conclude that instead of forcing the kids to fit teachers’ way of teaching, teachers need to be able to change their way of teaching to fit their students’ needs. Children with special needs do not learn the way we teach, so we need to teach the way they learn.”
“As a first step, teachers can have more of an impact by learning the art of motivation and the power of stimulating instructional routines and structure. Simply put, this means motivating students to perform non-preferred activities. Good teachers motivate their students when they tell them they can have 10 extra minutes of recess if they finish their work on time, or give them points towards a pizza party or a preferred activity. Motivating materials (i.e. arts & crafts, music, tablets loaded with educational software, etc.), topics relevant to kids, and a loving, warm, and passionate approach to teaching are excellent tools. Education does not have to be synonymous with boredom.  It should be an amazing experience.”

The class I visited was a real life example of this. The teacher did a great job. At one point he looked at me and said “you need to find something they like,” as if he was justifying the “crazy” subject. He was also planning to implement a rewards system where students get points towards preferred activities. Sound familiar? I was in heaven.

The sad part of the story is that this teacher is the exception, not the norm. I can’t help but wonder why. When is education going to catch up with sound, scientifically proven methods of education? When are we going to stop demanding kids to participate in boring, long and irrelevant classes?
When is it going to be teachers and students tackling learning TOGETHER rather than teachers AGAINST students?  

Daniel Adatto, BCBA

No comments:

Post a Comment