作者：北美考试教学中心 托福写作组 黄万竹
Pedagogy is an ever-lasting topic for both teachers and students. Since teaching method is a matter of different strokes for different folks, whether to carry out an up-to-date approach is rather debatable. As a high school teacher, I firmly believe that those so-called effective ways such as problem-based learning is far from being suitable nor practical on account of the real situation in classrooms.
When it comes to student-led discussions, it is true that students would be highly motivated and devoted to related topics. Nevertheless, a crucial fact on students aged 14-18 has been neglected, that is, hyperactivity and lack of self-control, because of which the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole class would be seriously affected to a considerable degree. A vivid example of this is the first class I gave as a novice teacher. The topic for discussion I presented at the beginning of that class was ancient Chinese costume in Tang Dynasty, and I asked students to talk about their ideas in groups of four freely for 20 minutes. But unfortunately, it turned out that they started to make comments on their favorite imperial concubines, intriguing love stories associated, and even the hottest actress in a television drama with a Tang Dynasty setting. That class has taught me a profound lesson that free discussions are inclined to be digressed from the original subject due to the curiosity of high school students on gossips and poor self-control. Had I led that discussion at the first beginning by handing out several specific questions, reducing the time limit, asking for more detailed results and monitoring the discussion process every now and then, that class would have been far more efficient and students would have learned more methodically.
Then how about project-based activities? It seems that these activities have been quite popular among all levels of schools nowadays, as I heard that even primary schools students are required to do their research. From my perspective, however, high school is still too early to overemphasize the significance of projects considering the nature of knowledge at this level. In other words, knowledge obtained in high school is fundamental, too fundamental to be enough to solve practical problems. Instead, only until students have a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of various disciplines, can their research be truly enlightening and motivating. I used to set up a pragmatic project on garbage disposal, aiming at inspiring students to come up with a perfect solution to a growing body of urban garbage. Owing to the narrow scope of knowledge in high school, they ended up using their imagination, such as transporting all rubbish to the moon or the Mars. On the contrary, I still remember that faced with the same project, my college classmates combined the principles of economy, chemistry, ecology and architecture, worked out a designed paper of a waste treatment plant and eventually won the first prize in an innovation contest. So it is a hasty decision to launch project-based research for high school students.
Indeed, teachers who are reluctant to implement brand-new pedagogics are likely to be conservative at first sight. But education is never to follow the fashion. If a teacher fails to take students’ characteristics and classroom effectiveness into consideration, he or she can hardly be regarded as successful or even responsible.