November 19, 2010

The Law of Review

"Sculptors in Ancient Rome" by Lawrence Alma Tadema

“Let us suppose the ordinary process of teaching to be finished. The teacher and pupil have met and have done their work together. Language freighted with ideas and aided by illustrations has been uttered and understood. Knowledge with its treasures of truth has been thought into the mind of the learner, and it lies there in greater or less completeness, to feed thought, to guide conduct, and to form character. What more is needed? The teacher’s task seems ended. BUT no! The most delicate, if not also the most difficult, work remains to be accomplished. All that has been done lies hidden in the learner’s mind, and lies there as a potency rather than a possession. What eye shall penetrate the understanding to determine the clearness and accuracy of the pupil’s cognitions? What hand shall nurse into larger growth and into permanent force the ideas he has been led to conceive? What process shall fix into active habits the thought-potencies which have been evolved? It is for this final and finishing work that our seventh law provides.” Pg 137

“The completion, test, and confirmation of teaching must be made by reviews.”

This is the seventh and last law of teaching from The Seven laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory. It is a surprisingly fun law though it may require several days, weeks or even years to be complete. I find it fun because I am an artist or designer at heart. I revel in approaching a topic or a creative idea from every angle; to revisit again the same idea in a new way; to turn a phrase with yet another form of imagery. It thrills me to make it come alive just one more time. I can be wordy in some arenas however here within this law it is perfectly legal and it is necessary to cement truth into the usable portion of your brain.

“No time in teaching is spent more profitable than that spent in reviewing. Other things being equal, he is the ablest and most successful teacher who secures from his pupils the most frequent, thorough, and INTERESTING reviews.” Pg 138

So what really then constitutes a review?
“A review is something more than a repetition. A machine can repeat a process, but only an intelligent agent can review it. The repetition done by a machine is a second movement precisely like the first; a repetition by the mind is the rethinking of a thought…..It involves fresh conceptions and new associations, and brings an increase of facility and power.” Pg 138

Explain more just why we need reviews?
“When we enter a strange house, we know not where to look for its several rooms, and the attention is drawn to a few of the more singular and conspicuous features of the furniture. We must return again, and again, and resurvey the scene with our eyes grown familiar to the place and to the light, before the whole plan of the building and the uses of all the rooms with their furniture will stand clearly revealed. So one must return again and again to a lesson if he would see all there is to see in it, and come to true and vivid understanding of its meaning.” Pg 139-140

To begin our year investigating botany I began with the concept of seeds. Knowing that my boys are young and need to become familiar with several new ideas I hunted for resources in the books I had on seeds, activities online, coloring sheets, mini books, experiments. I needed to look at seeds mainly the new names of the parts of the seed; testa, cotyledon, plumule, radicle, and embryo in many different ways to be sure they would get it with out losing their attention. We began by looking at seeds. Then we went hunting for seeds in our yard and on our nature hikes. Then we soaked some and opened them up. Then we began reading from a book called seed babies which describes some of the things we had been touching and seeing. We learned a simple song about seeds and how they grow. I played a montesorri matching game with the parts of the seeds, matching the new names with the picture of the seed part. They then made their own seed parts cards, coloring in and naming each part. We read about seed babies and what they need to grow, so we did an experiment to see if that was true. We put spaghetti squash seeds inside a plastic bag with a wet paper towel and place one bag in the sunlight, one in a closet and one in the fridge and looked at then for 12 days and marked our results. We opened all kinds of seeds and looked for the parts we knew. We counted how many seeds different fruits have. We noted all the different testas (outer shell of the seed)….the list goes on. I knew we were done with this lesson when a friend was over for dinner and the boys all explained their seed mosaic of the parts of the seed using the new Latin terms we had been reviewing.

“But the repetitions of a review are not made the same hour. They are spread over days and weeks, and hence they bring a new element into play. The lapse of time changes the point of view. At every review lesson we survey the lesson from a new standpoint. Its facts rise in a new order and are seen in new relations. Truths that stood in the shadow in first study come forth into the light.” pg 142

Ideas… to put reviews into practice. (paraphrased from pg 148-150)
*Always look for oppertunities to review. If there is a spare moment have a short lesson or question or new project to introduce that will fill the time with cementing already taught material.

*Set times into your day or lesson for review. Mr. Gregory mentions that one third of a lesson should be spent in review. I read about how Christine Miller would keep 3X5 cards of new facts her children were learning color coded for each subject and drill then for five minutes at the opening of her lessons. Use the end of a lesson to summarize or play a short game which reviews ideas of the lesson.

*Always link new lessons to old lessons. This is a simple way to review while at the same time introducing new knowledge using formerly acquired knowledge.

*Review frequently….and at intervals. So you may review within a lesson, review the next day as well, wait a few days and review it again and so forth until it is clear the student has got the material. Then why not review it again if a new idea comes along…don’t waste an oppertunity.

*When reviewing search for new questions to raise, new illustrations to explain it, new projects that will make use of it, new proofs that it is true, let the students ask their questions….a new a fresh approach or application will send the student thinking again.

*Forget not the value of a pencil and paper when doing a review.

I hope these laws will shed more light on the possibilities we have to teach our children well. But more importantly, that these laws will never add burden or weight to your already heavy and important load. May you prayerfully consider and tackle that which seems most interesting and inspiring and applicable to your family. May you love and enjoy the short time you have with your children and be free for the son has come to set us free! God bless you richly!

All quotes are from the Seven laws of teaching by John Milton Gregory.

1 comment:

  1. This blog is a Godsend. Thank you for the inspiration.