how my schooling has moulded me

An important idea that I have learned in my first semester is that teachers must be aware that they are teaching in many different ways in order to reach out to their students’ varying learning styles. Teachers have a tendency to teach in a way that compliments THEIR personal learning style and this got me thinking… 

I am a memorizer. In math, I didn’t need to understand WHY or HOW a formula worked, I could just memorize it and remember how to plug the numbers into it in order for the right answer to come out in the final step. 

The sad thing is, this type of learning is de-emphasized in today’s educational system. Just as future teachers are learning about critical thinking and personal reflection, so are today’s students. There is no longer a focus on memorizing and applying, but rather on understanding, questioning and using a concept in different ways in order to expand knowledge. 

So what made me into a memorizer? 

My schooling experiences. 

What troubles me most is that I did exceptionally well in school. This denotes that the assessment systems are designed to test this type of memorizing knowledge. The school system is set up in a way in which the memorizers can flourish.

It is not until I entered into the Faculty of Education that I have noticed this approach undergoing drastic change. In my Grade 12 year, my Math/Calculus teacher always encouraged us to UNDERSTAND over MEMORIZING (which, to me, seemed pointless, as I could perform the tasks just as well and have no idea what I was truly doing or what the purpose or reason behind it was). My Chemistry 30 course was centred around building critical thinkers. We had to write a departmental exam as the final, and our teacher successfully prepared us for the challenging test by giving us questions we’d never seen before. In order to solve them, you needed to use your previous knowledge and perhaps use multiple formulas or concepts in order to build a bridge towards developing an answer. We were being trained to think critically and made intelligent leaps from what we already knew in order to know something new. 

The more I learn about education today, the more I see the old ways of memorizing being tossed out. Especially in university, I hear the words “critical thinking” in every single class. No longer is being a memorizer going to cut it for me. I am being taught to think outside of the box and challenge myself. 

Even though I am outside of my learning style’s comfort zone, I know that adapting my critical thinking skills will only benefit me in order to succeed in my chosen profession. Learning these critical thinking skills will allow me to teach my students to NOT be memorizers like me.

As I have heard over and over (in only one semester of the teacher education program): A successful teacher is a critical thinker and a reflector.

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