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# We underestimate the intelligence of Children

Extreme GhostbusterAtlanta, GARegistered User regular
edited December 2006
A close friend of mine works with young kids at a daycare/school. Being a problem child himself he has a much more understanding take on the experience of being a kid than most teachers I've known and in a very realistic perspective (where most 'understanding' teachers are the lovey-dovey type). Hearing about his kids and how he teaches them, I have realized just how much we underestimate children in this society.

Most people treat kids like expensive pets, pampering them and never asking much from them. "Homework" for these children is usually circling which shape is a square or triangle. Well this tends to bring up children who only want to do the absolute bare minimum of work, a trend that is practically an epidemic in this country from what I've seen since I started going to school myself.

My friend has a different approach to teaching kids. My favorite so far has been the following:

The children are given a string of math problems, things they've been learning over the past few weeks. This includes addition, subtraction and a few really simple multiplication problems (keeping in mind these kids are 5 years old or so). Each of these problems churns out a number. This number goes to a combination lock that holds a ring of keys to a stationary object in the room (I think it was a cabinet handle).
Once they have gotten the number and gotten the keys they must figure out which key goes to a locked box on the opposite side of the room. All of the keys are dummies but one. Inside the locked box is an alarm clock. Their goal is to get to the clock before the alarm goes off. They have 15 minutes.

I wish I had a teacher like him when I was a wee larvae. It really is disappointing that, though kids are fully capable of completing a task like this, most teachers only try to lower the standards and pass kids along through the public school system, turning our adult society into a useless mass of overly-sensitive, selfish and lazy louts but for those few of us lucky enough to get a private education or simply have a knack for independent thought.

TankHammer on
TankHammer |
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## Posts

• Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
edited November 2006
Is this a Montessori school? Damn, that's some good learnin' right there. I would have loved to gone to school with that kind of curriculum. Teaching kids with activities that get their minds and bodies moving has always been the best way to keep them interested. Kudos to your friend.

• Extreme Ghostbuster Atlanta, GARegistered User regular
edited November 2006
Is this a Montessori school? Damn, that's some good learnin' right there. I would have loved to gone to school with that kind of curriculum. Teaching kids with activities that get their minds and bodies moving has always been the best way to keep them interested. Kudos to your friend.
This isn't a Montessori school, just a daycare center in the basement of a church. My friend just happens to be the type that goes out of his way NOT to do things in any typical or predictable way. I hope he gets his teaching degree, because this is the only job I think he could possibly enjoy doing.

TankHammer |
• Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
edited November 2006
That's absolutely amazing. If he has that gift, I salute him. It's way more noble than anything I ever did in the service. And more lasting.

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
I see what you did there. My father teaches at a large university in New Haven. By and large, the majority of his students he gets are driven, capable, and hardworking. He also gets the kids that can read but can't comprehend, can do the bare minumum, but don't want to challenge themselves, and expect to get praised for every single minor accomplishment. My youngest sister is 5 years old, and I think she's well on her way to being a part of the first group. But she's still just a kid, and although she does manage to surprise me with what she knows and what she can figure out, pushing her too hard and fast for future competition in school and work would come at the expense of her childhood and ultimately stunt her growth as a person.

As it stands she does ballet, swimming, piano lessons, and soccer. But if she just wants to hang out with her friends, they need to schedule a play date. The fear of the failure of schools has caused an over-reaction with consequences that we can't predict.

The public school system probably doesn't do a good job completely engaging her, and she goes to a magnet school that required a lottery and testing. The reason why the public school system is so 'bad' is that it needs to do the most amount of good for the largest group of kids it can. This means setting a standard and dragging the entire class across it. Little Timmy might be doing a physics projects at home with his family and Janie could use some extra help with math, but there's only so much time in the day and only so much one person can do with a class of 20+ kids.

It sounds like your friend's method is awesome. I wish more teachers were given this kind of freedom to educate kids.

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Playdate is the dumbest word in the English language.

I think we over regiment kids schedules. jsut give em time to play as they please once in a while.

• Matter of fact... I didn't even give you my coat!Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Is this a Montessori school? Damn, that's some good learnin' right there. I would have loved to gone to school with that kind of curriculum. Teaching kids with activities that get their minds and bodies moving has always been the best way to keep them interested. Kudos to your friend.
My wife is a Montessori teacher. I honestly had never heard of Montessori schools before she became affiliated with this one, but from the results I'm seeing this school produce with those children, I am definitely sending my kids there.

These kids are writing in cursive, performing multiplication and division and learning fractions at a time when I was just learning basic arithmetic in public schooling.

I honestly can't say enough about it; great program.

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Yeah, this summer I worked as a camp counselor for 5 year-olds. Apparently I don't remember what it was like to be 5 years old very well, because I expected them to be basically toddlers, but I was surprised at how smart and mature they (most of them) were.

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
This occured in either grade primary or grade 1, I dont remember. Our class was very small, maybe 8 people. We had done at least some basic math, so we knew how to add and subtract and stuff.

Then this other teacher started teaching us math. He took us into another room, sat us all down, and the first question he asked us 5 year olds was: What is the largest number?

Of course there were guesses. A thousand! A million! A fugdillion! No no and no. One girl said infinity. And he said yes. There is no largest number, because any number you can think of, you can always add something to it.

I had him as a math teacher on and off for the rest of elementry school, and he is one of my all time favorite math teachers. He would often take work meant for grades way above ours and give it to us. He didn't stick to the curriculum when it didn't suit him. He introduced us to many new concepts, and had great ways of teaching. His way of teaching us multiplication tables when I was in grade 4 was a speed test. Every week we would get a set of multiplication questions. Everyone did them as quickly as they could; when they were finished, they put up their hand and he wrote their time on the board. The winner got a prize, usually a fancy pencil or something. And boy, you learned those tables quite solidly.

I was always good at math, and so I really appreciated his teaching. I remember at one point he asked our combined class of grade 3, 4 and 5 (amounting to about 20 people, I was in grade 4) "what do you divide a number by to cut it in half". And I was the only one who knew the answer. I wish I had had him as a teacher for years after that, I'm sure I would have learned a great deal.

• Extreme Ghostbuster Atlanta, GARegistered User regular
edited November 2006
A friend's teacher once told the class that they would have a chance for extra credit. All they needed to do was answer a common question. His question? "Why?"
The class paused, another kid raises his hand. "Why not?" He got 5 points.

I love that story.

TankHammer |
• i blame hip hop Registered User regular
edited November 2006
What's funny is that I was just talking with my friend who's a high school teacher about how she wants to get out of the classroom and focus more on home schooling kids. She hates classroom management and no amount of creative less plans or good intentions will get her students to care, really. I know a lot of controlling a large group is basic presentation, speech, communication, performance, and all that, but can we really expect every teacher to be dynamite at crowd management as well as highly educated in their specific field?

So yeah, the real problem is class size. You simply can't engage every lesson you'd like when there's 35 kids running loose. Calling teachers professional baby-sitters isn't far from the truth. My friend loves the home-schooling, working with specific kids, because she gets that enjoyable rush of teaching again, but her classroom remains more a game of class management than any kind of instruction.

The other thing that's funny is that we shared a laugh over teachers who love teaching elementary kids. They're generally too young to be fucked up little brats, and it's a lot easier to maintain the feeling that your teaching is one small step in saving the world, instead of really being just being the last little calm before the storm.

So all that to say our public education system is under-funded and fucked up, and it's a lot easier to work with kids in smaller settings like your friend is doing. This is also why educated parents have educated kids, because they're able to teach them at home. So yeah ...

wisdom wrote:
if knowledge is power and power corrupts, be smart, be evil
• Registered User
edited November 2006
Our high school math teacher made us learn through fear.

He cut someones hat in half with a paper cutter once because they were wearing it in the hallway. He also threw orange peels at the yearbook staff over the room divider during satellite-learning calculus classes. No jokes.

All evilness aside I did learn a lot, mostly as a result of him egging on a competition between my friend and I as to who could get the highest grade 12 mark.

Edit: just as another example, he also threw a formaldehyde preserved remora at one of the girls, and walked around the room with his dead pig fetus during Biology class making it dance. I even have it on video.

• Registered User
edited November 2006
A close friend of mine works with young kids at a daycare/school. Being a problem child himself he has a much more understanding take on the experience of being a kid than most teachers I've known and in a very realistic perspective (where most 'understanding' teachers are the lovey-dovey type). Hearing about his kids and how he teaches them, I have realized just how much we underestimate children in this society.

Most people treat kids like expensive pets, pampering them and never asking much from them. "Homework" for these children is usually circling which shape is a square or triangle. Well this tends to bring up children who only want to do the absolute bare minimum of work, a trend that is practically an epidemic in this country from what I've seen since I started going to school myself.

My friend has a different approach to teaching kids. My favorite so far has been the following:

The children are given a string of math problems, things they've been learning over the past few weeks. This includes addition, subtraction and a few really simple multiplication problems (keeping in mind these kids are 5 years old or so). Each of these problems churns out a number. This number goes to a combination lock that holds a ring of keys to a stationary object in the room (I think it was a cabinet handle).
Once they have gotten the number and gotten the keys they must figure out which key goes to a locked box on the opposite side of the room. All of the keys are dummies but one. Inside the locked box is an alarm clock. Their goal is to get to the clock before the alarm goes off. They have 15 minutes.

Why did I think of SAW when I read this? I definitely shouldn't be around children

• Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
edited November 2006
Their goal is to get to the clock before the alarm goes off. They have 15 minutes.

Why did I think of SAW when I read this? I definitely shouldn't be around children

I am on the fucking floor.

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
The two "games" which I remember playing a whole lot in elementary school to learn math were Math Basketball and Around the World.

Math Basketball would involve splitting the class into teams, putting masking tape lines on the floor. The teacher would write a math problem on the board, then a player from each team would run to the board and try to be the first person to solve the problem. Get it? Your team gets 2 points. That person then got to take a shot with one of those red rubber balls, trying to get it in the trashcan. Three lines of varying distance, 1, 2, or 3 bonus points. Team with the most points at the end wins...stupid prizes as usual, but who cares? You won.

Around the World, however, was much more nerve racking. Two people face off, one standing next to the other's desk where he's sitting. Teacher brings out a flash card. Whoever blurts out the correct answer first wins. If there's a tie, you go to the next card. Whoever wins goes to the next person's desk. It was tough because you were standing where the other guy is sitting, and in order to completely win, you have to beat everyone 1:1 in the entire class.

That game rocked.

• Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
edited November 2006
Yeah, kids are pretty damn impressive. I never thought much of them until I had my own. Watching my two and a half year old think about things, and come to logical conclusions is awesome as fuck. I can't wait to see what new things she learns every day.

• Extreme Ghostbuster Atlanta, GARegistered User regular
edited November 2006
Their goal is to get to the clock before the alarm goes off. They have 15 minutes.

Why did I think of SAW when I read this? I definitely shouldn't be around children

I am on the fucking floor.

He got the idea from Saw actually... but nobody had to hack off a body part. God I hoped nobody would make the connection but I was a fool to hope for that.

TankHammer |
• __BANNED USERS
edited November 2006
I remember a teacher who taught much like the way you guys described at a local school, and was fired after a petition by the PTA

• Registered User
edited November 2006
All jokes aside, that is a pretty cool teacher.

I went to a private school until 9th grade, and it boiled down to sitting down, repeating math tables, and then having reading time, just really boring shit that kills your will to learn.

I think kids naturally want to learn, but over the years of repetitive boring drills, we just lose it, and turn into Wal-Mart-ians (Ya I made a new word, go me!)

• Extreme Ghostbuster Atlanta, GARegistered User regular
edited November 2006
I remember a teacher who taught much like the way you guys described at a local school, and was fired after a petition by the PTA
That shit ALWAYS happens. This is why private schools > public. They can actually tell parents and unruly students to gtfo.

TankHammer |
• __BANNED USERS
edited November 2006
I remember a teacher who taught much like the way you guys described at a local school, and was fired after a petition by the PTA
That shit ALWAYS happens. This is why private schools > public. They can actually tell parents and unruly students to gtfo.

Unless they want their $10,000 dollars a year. • Registered User regular edited November 2006 Casket wrote: I remember a teacher who taught much like the way you guys described at a local school, and was fired after a petition by the PTA :| What was their "logic" in this? Spoiler: • Registered User regular edited November 2006 Kantakeris, does this fit into a larger curriculum, or are these kids just mostly going to be unleashed on the public school system? Casket wrote: I remember a teacher who taught much like the way you guys described at a local school, and was fired after a petition by the PTA :| What was their "logic" in this?$5 on making my stupid kid feel stupid.

• __BANNED USERS
edited November 2006
I remember a teacher who taught much like the way you guys described at a local school, and was fired after a petition by the PTA
:|

What was their "logic" in this?

Complaint from a student perhaps

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
According to my mother, when I was two years old I had Rober Louis Stevenson's "My Shadow" memorized, and would recite it all around the house. I remember writing poetry, and eventually short stories, by the time I was six.

I mention this because I always try to keep it in mind when I deal with children- I remember what I was capable of thinking and doing when I was five or seven or nine, and that there's usually no reason for the average child to be any dumber or less capable than I was.

I don't wanna kill anybody. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from.
• Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
edited November 2006
Harrier wrote:
According to my mother, when I was two years old I had Rober Louis Stevenson's "My Shadow" memorized, and would recite it all around the house. I remember writing poetry, and eventually short stories, by the time I was six.

I mention this because I always try to keep it in mind when I deal with children- I remember what I was capable of thinking and doing when I was five or seven or nine, and that there's usually no reason for the average child to be any dumber or less capable than I was.

If anything, I just assume my daughter is smarter than I am, and so I probably end up throwing a lot of stuff at her she's totally incapable of getting at her age, just in case she does.

The other day the book she picked up off the book shelf for me to read to her was on string theory, so if nothing else, maybe she'll be the only two year old around whose at least *heard* of string theory, even if she doesn't understand it. She'll be a nerd yet!

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Harrier wrote:
According to my mother, when I was two years old I had Rober Louis Stevenson's "My Shadow" memorized, and would recite it all around the house. I remember writing poetry, and eventually short stories, by the time I was six.

I mention this because I always try to keep it in mind when I deal with children- I remember what I was capable of thinking and doing when I was five or seven or nine, and that there's usually no reason for the average child to be any dumber or less capable than I was.

If anything, I just assume my daughter is smarter than I am, and so I probably end up throwing a lot of stuff at her she's totally incapable of getting at her age, just in case she does.

The other day the book she picked up off the book shelf for me to read to her was on string theory, so if nothing else, maybe she'll be the only two year old around whose at least *heard* of string theory, even if she doesn't understand it. She'll be a nerd yet!
If she doesn't understand string theory she's in good company. For the rest of her life.

I don't wanna kill anybody. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from.
• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
I remember a teacher who taught much like the way you guys described at a local school, and was fired after a petition by the PTA
That shit ALWAYS happens. This is why private schools > public. They can actually tell parents and unruly students to gtfo.

Unless they want their $10,000 dollars a year. More like$25k.

Retrospectively, I'm glad I was tossed into private school in 3rd grade, especially hearing other people recount their educational experiences and then thinking of some of the awesome teachers I had. Though one of my favorite teachers was my 2nd grade teacher and that was in public school... ha, dude, to get our report cards at the end of the term/whatever, we had to do a memorization game, where she would say x amount of words and then you had to say as many of them back as you could or something... and you know, winner gets his/hers first.

| Steam & XBL: Shazkar | 3DS: 3110-5421-3843 |
• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Harrier wrote:
According to my mother, when I was two years old I had Rober Louis Stevenson's "My Shadow" memorized, and would recite it all around the house. I remember writing poetry, and eventually short stories, by the time I was six.

I mention this because I always try to keep it in mind when I deal with children- I remember what I was capable of thinking and doing when I was five or seven or nine, and that there's usually no reason for the average child to be any dumber or less capable than I was.

If anything, I just assume my daughter is smarter than I am, and so I probably end up throwing a lot of stuff at her she's totally incapable of getting at her age, just in case she does.

The other day the book she picked up off the book shelf for me to read to her was on string theory, so if nothing else, maybe she'll be the only two year old around whose at least *heard* of string theory, even if she doesn't understand it. She'll be a nerd yet!

Well to understand it she'd have to know the math behind it.

Which is likely not going to happen.

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
And my grandfather taught me long division like years before we learned it in school and would give me problems to do.. random.. but that helped and made me feel more awesome.

| Steam & XBL: Shazkar | 3DS: 3110-5421-3843 |
• Registered User, ClubPA regular
edited November 2006
One of the reasons that Mr. Rogers (everyone read that, it's awesome) was so successful amongst kids was that he spoke to them as if they were real people and didn't underestimate their intelligence.

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Mr. Rogers was the man. x10000000

| Steam & XBL: Shazkar | 3DS: 3110-5421-3843 |
• Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
edited November 2006
[quote=[Tycho?]]
Harrier wrote:
According to my mother, when I was two years old I had Rober Louis Stevenson's "My Shadow" memorized, and would recite it all around the house. I remember writing poetry, and eventually short stories, by the time I was six.

I mention this because I always try to keep it in mind when I deal with children- I remember what I was capable of thinking and doing when I was five or seven or nine, and that there's usually no reason for the average child to be any dumber or less capable than I was.

If anything, I just assume my daughter is smarter than I am, and so I probably end up throwing a lot of stuff at her she's totally incapable of getting at her age, just in case she does.

The other day the book she picked up off the book shelf for me to read to her was on string theory, so if nothing else, maybe she'll be the only two year old around whose at least *heard* of string theory, even if she doesn't understand it. She'll be a nerd yet!

Well to understand it she'd have to know the math behind it.

Which is likely not going to happen.[/quote]

Well, you can understand the ideas behind plenty of theories without knowing the math behind them...but yeah, of course she won't get it, hell, I barely get it, but it's fun to try and teach kids about crazy advanced stuff and see what sticks.

As an aside, she does understand some cool things, like that the only way to stop a zombie is to sever the spinal cord, preferably with a shovel, shotgun, or sword of some sort.

• Registered User, ClubPA regular
edited November 2006
• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Doc wrote:
I dunno about you guys, but that video made me feel really, really good.

Rent wrote: »
So that's what having no idea what you are talking about looks like
• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Torso Boy wrote:
Doc wrote:
I dunno about you guys, but that video made me feel really, really good.

Somehow my school has found a way to make yahoo video not load the videos. They are out to kill me for sure.

(keep in mind this is college and I spend 3 classes in a row setting at the same comp 5 days a week, sometimes I need to relax during the breaks in between classes of if I skip my lunch break.)

• Registered User
edited November 2006
Torso Boy wrote:
Doc wrote:
I dunno about you guys, but that video made me feel really, really good.
My mother met Fred Rogers when she worked for PBS. She said he was one of the nicest people she had ever met.

Better-than-birthday-sig!
Spoiler:
• Way up inside your butthole, Morty. WAAAAY up inside there.Registered User regular
edited November 2006
Torso Boy wrote:
Doc wrote:
I dunno about you guys, but that video made me feel really, really good.
Man, that's a great video. Props to Mr. Rogers for being the nicest guy in the world and being passionate about what he believes in, and props to Senator Pastore for taking the time to listen to him and see the importance of what he says.

• Registered User regular
edited November 2006
I had him as a math teacher on and off for the rest of elementry school, and he is one of my all time favorite math teachers. He would often take work meant for grades way above ours and give it to us. He didn't stick to the curriculum when it didn't suit him. He introduced us to many new concepts, and had great ways of teaching. His way of teaching us multiplication tables when I was in grade 4 was a speed test. Every week we would get a set of multiplication questions. Everyone did them as quickly as they could; when they were finished, they put up their hand and he wrote their time on the board. The winner got a prize, usually a fancy pencil or something. And boy, you learned those tables quite solidly.

That is pretty awesome, and obviously it worked, but as a teacher, one of the things I was taught is that giving kids (or people, in general) external motivation (in this case, the fancy pencil reward) to learn is a bad thing. One of the things I was told is that I need to strive to make the learning itself the motivation for learning. That's very hard to do, especially with a culture so fixated on things other than the learning itself - for example, as they grow older, students tend to become fixated on things like grades, rather than the knowledge itself. I still haven't figured out how to reconcile this.

• Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
edited November 2006
Marty81 wrote:
I had him as a math teacher on and off for the rest of elementry school, and he is one of my all time favorite math teachers. He would often take work meant for grades way above ours and give it to us. He didn't stick to the curriculum when it didn't suit him. He introduced us to many new concepts, and had great ways of teaching. His way of teaching us multiplication tables when I was in grade 4 was a speed test. Every week we would get a set of multiplication questions. Everyone did them as quickly as they could; when they were finished, they put up their hand and he wrote their time on the board. The winner got a prize, usually a fancy pencil or something. And boy, you learned those tables quite solidly.

That is pretty awesome, and obviously it worked, but as a teacher, one of the things I was taught is that giving kids (or people, in general) external motivation (in this case, the fancy pencil reward) to learn is a bad thing. One of the things I was told is that I need to strive to make the learning itself the motivation for learning. That's very hard to do, especially with a culture so fixated on things other than the learning itself - for example, as they grow older, students tend to become fixated on things like grades, rather than the knowledge itself. I still haven't figured out how to reconcile this.

I think part of the problem is that education and learning don't always go hand in hand. Something like your multiplication tables, it's useful to know, but the knowledge itself is in the means of finding the answer. Learning that 5 times 5 is 25 might be something fun, but learning a table which helps you instinctively know 5 x 5 = 25 is completely different.

I think rewarding the memorization of things is fine, because at that point, they're no longer learning multiplication, they know how to multiply, you're just teaching them a method of doing it quickly, and given how useful it is, challenging students to memorize it quickily would be quite beneficial, I'd think.

• Extreme Ghostbuster Atlanta, GARegistered User regular
edited November 2006
Physical rewards for doing well in school isn't a terrible thing, but it's not the best plan. What happens when there are no more rewards? The reason I appreciate my friend's techniques and many of the methods in this thread is that it teaches a sense of personal accomplishment, which will always hold an association in the child's psyche. It's such a god-damned good idea.

TankHammer |
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