GOOD

Why Creative Teaching is Essential For the Information Age

Abandoning a narrow, one-size-fits all approach to teaching would help students develop the curiosity they need to become innovators of the future.


There’s a belief in this country that every student should graduate from high school with the same standard set of knowledge. This standard curriculum is lengthy, and states spend many years—and plenty of money—creating fancy bullet-pointed lists of the subjects students are expected to know.

Sadly, the list of facts and formulas students need to perform well on a standardized test is freakishly small in comparison. And, because education policymakers have narrowed teachers' focus to these few topics, it becomes tempting to resort to drill-and-kill teaching methods that cover information in a generic, surface-level way. Unsurprisingly, instead of fostering curiosity—which is much more important in the long term than rote memorization—this approach causes students to tune out.


My experience as a classroom teacher has shown me that teenagers are interested in almost anything taught well and with passion. They’re especially engaged by creative, real-world applications of knowledge.

I teach kids how to do their taxes in my calculus class, and they love it. The students know they're going to have to fill out their own tax returns eventually, which is enough to convince them to buy in to the lesson.

Yet taxes generally are completely ignored by the standard high school math curriculum. According to that curriculum, a student will be taught more about conic sections than about the math skills necessary to complete the 1040.

I'm continually amazed how teaching an applicable skill piques students' curiosity and prompts them to do more research. Last year, my students wondered about the claims that wealthy Americans pay more taxes than the rest of us. So they graphed the tax tables, fit functions to them, and reverse-engineered the equations the IRS uses to figure taxable income and tax rates. Other students chose to create a program to analyze which deductibles are worth tracking.

Now that I’ve broadened my approach—and allocated ample time to diving deeper into certain content—these kinds of genuinely interesting projects seem like such obvious ways to engage my students. They not only have a deeper understanding of math, they can also explain how taxation affects populations and their political choices.

Unfortunately, the test-driven push to quickly cover the state-mandated curriculum is growing. As a result, in too many classrooms students feign interest and are afraid to make mistakes. This is not the reflex I want my students to develop, and it should offend anyone who believes that education is about the pursuit of true knowledge.

Our modern information age needs curious, humble minds—people willing to absorb new knowledge, think critically and put information into context. Abandoning a narrow, one-size-fits-all approach to curriculum standards would help students develop the curiosity they need to become the innovators of the future. That matters more than the ability to recall an answer on the test.

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet