Monday, April 09, 2007

The Home Education Solution

The problem? Anxiety is strongly linked to reduction in capacity to learn. This anxiety can result in part from negative stereotyping in the minds of learners, ie and eg: women believe that women can't do maths and therefore they can't. From the 13th January edition of the The New Scientist, (sub needed for full article), a team of psychologists have tested a possible solution to the problem of stereotyping. They

"asked a group of African Amercan 12 - 13 year olds to spend a few minutes examinging a list of values, based on things such as friendship and family, and to indicate which they felt were most important. The students than wrote a short paragraph explaining why they felt the values they had chosen were meaningful to them.

This self-affirming exercise took just 15 minute, yet it had a remarkable impact. Compared to their peers, these students showed more resilience in the face of failures and earned higher grades throughout the term. The exercies reduced the achievement gap between them and white students by 40 per cent. "

Great - now I can see the argue for the importance of those self-affirming posts!

Of course it seems to be the case that this kind of stereotyping is much less likely to happen when the pressure to compare that happens all the time in the school system is taken off, so yet again it would appear that HE has a structural advantage. And yes, this does seem to bear out in the effects - it is often the case that it is often quite hard to insist on a stereotyping a long-term HEk in any way, shape or form, since they so often cannot see the point of these sorts of apparent limitations.

Also of course, simply reducing anxiety by not being put in the pressured situation of school can be extremely beneficial to learning. My maths immediately improved when I do am not in a pressurized situation such as school, where I went from the top set in the first year, to the bottom set by the fifth. I now find that I cannot imagine why I thought I had problems with it, (at the level we are talking about, of course) and also that I can gradually build up to doing more and more maths under pressure as I become more and more adept at managing it in the unpressurized space.


Gill said...

I started to really enjoy maths - after I left school. Got the same maths teacher 5 years running and she hated me, therefore I hated maths. Very sad! It's a great subject.

dottyspots said...

Snap! I couldn't stand maths at school and 'came to it' much later when I returned to college as a mature student.

33, 452 said...

I like the idea of such exercises actually. As long as students would be able to keep their answers private and wouldn't be expected to "hand them in" - I can sooo imagine a future of such "self-affirming" exercises being graded! *rolls eyes and laughs despite having meant the comment half-seriously*

I do believe that (for most people) it is easier to learn when they keep it in perspective, when they understand that it isn't actually vitally important, that the world will still turn whether they pass their chemistry exam or not etc

I guess the advantage of such exercises is in helping kids to realise that they have many other things that matter to them than simply how they perform in tests, this takes the pressure off, so they perform better.

I can see real value in this. :)

However the way they did this in this instance is yuck - it sounds very much like treating kids as guinea pigs!