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Integrated Learning

English: Graduate School

English: Graduate School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There needs to be a foundation of past learning on which to build new learning.  The better a person can relate to a new subject, the more likely, he or she will understand and retain the new learning.  One gift of a teacher is that he or she can find ways to connect past learning in his or her students to new learning.  Not only do teachers need the gift of knowledge about a subject that they seek to impart to their students, but also they have to know how to convey that material to their students.

I have had the experience where a professor who was very well known in her field and who had done trail blazing research was unable to pass that knowledge on in a meaningful way to her students.  It was in an advanced graduate course where all the students had been at the top of their class when they graduated from college and were successfully mastering graduate work for their advanced degrees.  She gave a test  and all of the select group of students who were taking her course did not give the answers she expected of them.  In fact, she held the students over so that she could go over the entire test and demonstrate the answers she had expected of them.  What she didn’t know was that the students had regularly been getting together in order to figure out the correct answers to questions that she had raised and thought that she answered in class.  Every lecture she gave was even more confusing than the last.  No wonder her students did not know the answers that she had expected them to give on her test.  She knew her subject, but she could not teach her subject.

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