Confucius he talk crap sometimes

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.

When I first read this, I thought it was brave of the writer to admit to being an idiot. Subsequently I realised this is a well-known saying, supposedly a Chinese proverb. Now I realise that people who write this are still idiots, just in a slightly different way.

I’m not a visual learner. I’m not a spatial or “kinetic” learner. I don’t like the stupidity and smugness inherent in the assumption that any non-visual, non-active learning “doesn’t work”. It works just fine for me, most of the time.

Many of my lessons at school involved a few minutes of actual teaching, followed by an interminable “activity” designed to “reinforce the learning”. I struggled in those lessons. The bit where the teacher was telling us stuff was fine. The other bits were not.

Ah, I hear you say. That’s because you were just sitting back and letting the teacher’s words wash over you, then when it came to the “active learning” bit, you struggled because you hadn’t truly grasped the subject matter of the lesson. Well, maybe. But that doesn’t explain why I struggled in French lessons despite already being able to speak French. I think I struggled because a lot of lazy teachers would rather dump a poorly explained, confusing, pointless activity on their pupils than actually teach, and I am someone who doesn’t get on well with poorly explained, confusing, pointless activities.

I get why you’ll never learn to drive if you don’t get to sit in the driver’s seat. I get why certain activities really do require you to put your body in a certain space and actually do something before you can learn. What I do not accept is the lazy assumption that all learning has to work this way. Especially when the “involvement” is a substitute for genuine learning. Especially when the rhetoric about “active learning” is a cloak for the teacher putting their feet up while the learners flounder.

So stop quoting that sodding proverb. It just proves you’re unoriginal as well as a slow learner. I have no idea why you’d want the world to be sure of that.

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