Perhaps I’m exaggerating by using “riot” as the opposite of rote, but from my observations, not by much.  Two illustrations from my educational experience:

In high school, I was called a DAR meaning a Darn Average Raiser.  I liked to memorize and I could do it well.  I memorized the entire Dewey Decimal System in one evening.  U-huh, I’m talking something now that most of you have never heard of – yes, you with your eyes on the computer.  I’m not going to explain much because you don’t really care but it was the way the school libraries were organized in those days.  And suffice it to say I was the only one who did it.  Quick and easy.  Now I can try to memorize two Bible scriptures per week and seldom do they stick in my long term memory.  (Of course, the Dewey Decimal System is gone also.)

I dropped out of college for about ten years after I got married.  When I went back, I found major changes in the way college classes were taught.  Not so much memorizing.  Team projects.  And worst of all, student led.  There I met my Waterloo.  I walked into a class one day and couldn’t even recognize the instructor.  Someone told me we were to organize groups and, I guess, basically plan our goals, agenda, syllabus, or whatever else we needed to conduct a class and get three hours of credit.  I was outta there!  I got a quick W – not for Waterloo but for Withdrawal.  I don’t really know that the class turned to riot or not.  But from today’s new accounts, some have become just that – a riot or perhaps called a protest – some word to describe being on the lawn demanding one’s way!

I guess those two incidents – memorization and self initiated (or whatever you would call it) represent the extremes of learning methods.

At this point in my life I prefer lecture to team learning but I like lots of opportunity for questions, comments, debate, and discussion.  I still like an instructor who knows more than I.  I would prefer that the instructor proves it in some way besides saying so, however!

Teaching is an awesome responsibility.  Bible scripture James 3:1 says “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  It is not easy to hone in on the right method for teaching individuals with such wide learning styles.

<a href=””>Learning Style</a>

About oneta hayes

ABOUT ME Hello. To various folks I am Neat’nee, Mom, Grandma Neta, Gramma, Aunt Neta, Aunt Noni, Aunt Neno, and Aunt Neto (lots of varieties from little nieces and nephews). To some I’m more like “Didn’t you used to be my teacher?” or “Don’t I know you from someplace?” To you, perhaps, I am a Fellow Blogger. Not “fellow” like a male or a guy, but “fellow” like a companion or an adventurer. I would choose to be Grandma Blogger, and have you pull up a chair, my website before you, while I tell you of some days of yore. I have experienced life much differently than most of you. It was and is a good life. I hope to share nuggets of appreciation for those who have gone before me and those who come after me. By necessity you are among those who come after me and I will tell you of those who came before. Once upon a time in a little house on a prairie - oops, change that lest I commit plagiarism - and change that “house on the prairie” to “dugout on the prairie.” So my story begins...
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31 Responses to ROTE TO RIOT

  1. artseafartsea says:

    I had similar learning experiences, going back to college a long time after leaving high school, Unlike you, I stayed with the program. Unfortunately, didn’t stay long enough to get a degree but I enjoyed the experience. Not saying I enjoyed all the teachers, some were downright obnoxious! But I feel that I gained a lot from the experience. Really liked your Post, reminded me of the school daze.

    • oneta hayes says:

      I’m curious about how long he let “his experiment” last, and I wonder how much he got from the feds in order to “pilot” a new program! See any cynicism here? Although I dropped the class I took another and did complete my degree. I suppose I would have stayed if it had been the only thing available. That was about fifty years ago. No wonder I view today’s “university” offerings with near distain. Mostly I trust local community colleges – I think most of them have professors who actually teach.

  2. dawnlizjones says:

    Such an insightful post! I’m a bit concerned with some of what I see; seems like we have to make the lessons “fun” for the kids to learn them. Whatever has become of self-discipline in the learning process? Why do we need to reward kids for doing what they should already do? We’ve come a long way, baby. It ain’t all good.

    • WanderLaur says:

      For learning to stick – in the long run – it needs to have a purpose, it needs to be meaningful, and the process should be enjoyable. If a student is learning something he/she is really interested in, he/she will be enjoying the learning, thus making it “fun”. Gone are the days when the teacher holds the knowledge, and the knowledge must be passed down to future generations. We have knowledge at our fingertips. We do not need to teach knowledge; rather, we need to teach skills, habits, and the like. Self-discipline, for the sake of learning something that is uninteresting, has no place in today’s learning environment. Self-discipline for things that are meaningful…. always.

      • oneta hayes says:

        I’m not understanding how to teach self-discipline when a student only does what he finds fun or does what he wants to do. I agree that we need to teach skills, habits, etc. Computer lessons are fun as long as they make no demands to strive harder. I love to do Sudoku. I find level one to be fairly boring but I do them because there are there and I get a bit of thrill out of trying to do them faster even if they are easy. Level Two is a bit less easy but not much challenge. Level Three makes me think; I can do them if I really try. I like them, I can win. I do them in pen because I make few mistakes. I go to Level Four. I can do them, but they take so much longer, they require that I use a pencil. since I make mistakes in Level Four. So what do I do? I buy more books and do the lower levels again. That is the kind of self-discipline I practice and I don’t see public school
        students striving any harder than I do. As long as it is fun and easy, with no mistakes, bring it on. Why read, write, spell, and use grammar correctly. All my friends can read my texts! Why take out hours of my time to learn to spell? Thanks, WanderLaur, you make me think!

        • WanderLaur says:

          An example: when I’m teaching, we start a unit by brainstorming what we know, the students ask questions about things they want to know, we “get to it” – inquiring into the topic/concept/ideas to learn and answer our questions. In the end, we take some sort of action and share our learning (this is the Primary Years Programme from the IB and it is what i’m used to). Within this, students must learn self-discipline in order to inquire into what it is we’re learning about – all steps along the way. They learn to meet deadlines, to produce quality writing, and present their information in other creative ways. They prepare presentations, contact organizations to get information and/or contribute. They are having fun; learning and fun can go together – I think that is the comment error in thinking by many people.

          One way that I encourage the type of persistence you speak of (with your Sudoku example) is with the mindset I encourage in the classroom. Words like grit, determination, persistence are all key. Not praising a child with general phrases like “good work” and “great job” also help. Rather, I ask specific questions that make them think about their learning and the process. I give suggestions that help them to *improve*. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Growth Mindset. If not, search it and Carol Dweck, who coined the term and has done research and written a book on it. Very important to teaching self-discipline, but not for the sake of memorizing facts and information.

          I’m glad my comment has made you think. You’ve done the same. “Real” thinking is always a goal of mine in conversation! And this conversation I am so passionate about! 🙂

          • oneta hayes says:

            You surely do sound like a great teacher, guide, mentor. You fill in the word. Sounds like you have it covered. I am the first among many family members who are teachers. I respect them all. I am more concerned that I did not do well. I achieved, I had a reputation as a great teacher – still do actually – and all the other fluff that goes with it including teaching at teacher’s conferences. I wore a formal evening gown and motorcycle helmet to school one day when we were studying about dressing appropriately, wearing warm coats when it was cold and that sort of thing. What a waste of time! Those precious little ones were fortunate to find anything to put on. They sure didn’t need a lessons about wearing long or short sleeves. But you see I wasn’t’ exactly what most folks think this old school teacher would have been!
            . I taught 17 years in the same school, bonded with the families, loved them dearly, but I look back in tears to think how little I actually taught them. Things they needed to know. Many in the fourth grade could master no more than second grade reading and math. Okay enough of my pain. Bless you dear.

            • dawnlizjones says:

              Interesting to read what great conversation you have sparked!! Great thoughts all ’round!

              • oneta hayes says:

                Download, I presented Rote to Riot as the extremes. I think you will find good teachers mostly somewhere in the middle still making allowances for student learning styles. Wouldn’t it be nice if student and teacher styles could be matched up before being placed in a classroom!

              • oneta hayes says:

                Dawn, I am embarrassed that I did not proof my last comment to you. I have noticed other times that my kindle changes dawnliz to Download. I should have caught it. I don’t have the problem on this laptop. Maybe it happens to you so often you just overlook it!

              • dawnlizjones says:

                Hahaha! I must be reading so fast (or I’m just that tired after working at school all day) that I don’t even catch it! Today is a snow day–remember those?? Hope you all didn’t get too much ice.

  3. When I was in college, I had a few classes where the professor sort of guided the class into something similar to the student-led format you describe. We still had an “expert” to lead the way, who had an idea about where we should go; but, the students felt a sense of “ownership” of the process. Those were some of my most memorable courses.
    Perhaps more teachers and students should find that balance: Here is the teacher to guide you to wisdom; you, the student, must own responsibility for the learning experience.
    And, as a Bible teacher, I have found that it is impossible to teach anybody about Scripture or the things of God if they simply do not want to learn.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Yes, students should own the responsibility for learning, and I would add teachers should own the responsibility for teaching, even if they prefer the term “guiding” or, of course, “facilitating.” It would be great to find that meeting place. Many, probably most, students do not know what they need to learn unless someone guides them into finding their need. That is one reason I liked to do pretests; however, students didn’t like it much! If you find that problem in Bible classes, think what it must be like in physical science or ancient history where students have to have a passing grade to get a diploma. I’m assuming most Bible students are in class because they want to be. It is not usually a “required” subject in public education – either lower or higher education. Have we met before, Michael? It is nice to have this discussion with you. I guess we are both learners!

      • We haven’t met before, but I came across your post and found it interesting.
        There is a difference between people who volunteer for a class (like a church’s midweek Bible study), students who are just trying to get a grade, and children who are forced to take a class because that’s what the grown-ups told them to do. Incentive will draw a student to learn.

        • oneta hayes says:

          Thanks for joining the discussion. I’ve been browsing in your site. Marked your follow. I’m sure I will benefit from your thoughts. You are right about students working for incentives. Most of them are in the here and now. I have no advice for what to do when grades are frowned upon, competition is discouraged, authority is disregarded, peer pressure derides “nerds.” I do know some fantastic young people who are achieving in spite of the obstacles. Thankfully.

    • WanderLaur says:

      Very well said!

  4. shoreacres says:

    There’s education, and there’s indoctrination. There’s content, and there’s fluff. There are basic skills, developed and honed, and there are participation trophies.

    If I had kids today, it would be home-schooling time, for sure. I had a better education by the time I left high school than many graduate students today. Part of the problem is something you mention. The professors are meant not to teach, but to publish, and bring funds into the school. Most classes are farmed out to teaching assistants, and that isn’t good.

    My first terrible experience came in my general math class, my freshman year in college. I had trouble iwth math anyway, and we were in a class with 500 students, three big tvs, and proctors. There was gobbledygook about sets, subsets, etc. It was the beginning of the “new math.” I sat in the back and learned to play bridge, which actually did me some good.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Glad for your learning experience with bridge. It probably taught you some about chance, ratio, and maybe a few other things. I’m guessing, however, that someone taught you to play bridge so that to that instructor. Mom, sister, friend? 500 students? Someone was raking in the dough on that class! Much higher education is a giant waste of funds. (I would have said a colossal waste if someone had taught me to spell colossal ) and much of the funds in lower ed is misplaced and ill used. That bit abut colossal was supposed to be funny, was it? 😀 😀

  5. That’s a nicely written post on learning styles ! 🙂

  6. Jean Ottosen says:

    Oneta, that’s a well written post on the difference between what homeschoolers call “school at home” learning and unschooling. Most people look at the two and think there is nothing else, especially when it comes to homeschooling. Actually, there is a balance, as other posters have commented about regular schools. In homeschooling it’s called eclectic schooling. Where basically you pull from all approaches to schooling to provide what works for your child. Too bad this couldn’t be done in the school system.

    Every child has different needs. I had a child that unschooled beautifully and received top grades in all her assessments, no matter what the method used. Then I had another that needed a firmer hand with more direction and some discipline instilled. So I think it depends on the child what method works best.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Jean Ottosen,I agree that there is a wide range between the two extremes I presented. Someone (parent or teacher) needs to evaluate the child and prescribe some learning goals. As I said before, being a teacher is a frightening responsibility. I had a student in third grade who had never been shown any way to read except by sight words, story writing, and other language methods. He could not read. I spent a lot of time teaching phonics to him. He and I were both happy when he could sound hat, cat, rat, etc. We didn’t get much beyond that in the year. I wanted to keep him another year. Parent wouldn’t let me. I hope he got a teacher who could build on what success he finally found with reading phonetically. Does that mean all children need phonics? Of course not. But he did, and it took a long time to find that out. Children are precious. I hate how some get such a bad opinion of themselves because of a teacher’s lack of time, talent, rigidity or laziness. Thanks for commenting.

      • Jean Ottosen says:

        I always thought a combination of phonics and whole language worked best myself. My eldest taught herself to read at 4 years old. But my youngest needed more support and didn’t read books on her own until 9 years old. She’s actually the writer in the family.

        Yes, someone needs to do an assessment of some sort on each child and provide what they need and the environment they need to learn best.

        I’m loving the comments on your article as much as the article itself! I think you excelled on this Blogging U assignment!

        • oneta hayes says:

          My teaching was during the years when phonics was frowned upon. We were into experience stories. Big deal, those who could memorize just memorized! No encoding necessary! Well, Jean, don’t miss the last episode of oneta and WanderLaur
          She sounds like a great teacher, as you do also. I follow a wonderful art teacher. Love her attitude and talents. I can’t look her up on this kindle. At least I don’t know how. I’ll try to find her and add her URL into this conversation. You will enjoy her.

  7. powerful scripure to emphasis your point…….good word

  8. Faye says:

    Thank you for the interaction this blog post inspired. My husband was both a high and primary school teacher – he now sees both the good and bad of the system of teaching BUT many today go into the technological age when they can’t even read (ie a book) or write ie a properly written letter to a grandmother. Regarding the spiritual aspect of teaching. None of us can teach anyone about faith. Teaching of the background of faith and learning about ‘stuff’ is important. Without that knowledge how can you possible choose your life path BUT God the Holy Spirit IS the Divine Teacher and only He can reveal a faith that will not be shaken. Then all the learning in the world will only enhance His Presence. (A thought from one who was an R.I. Teacher ie Religious Instruction teacher for 30 years).When I was asked about teaching all faiths. ie hindu, buddhist, Islamic I now have no problem because information helps to find your TRUTH on which you can base your life. If you don’t have information how can you possibly discern deception. Oh how important guiding, loving nurturing teaching can be.

  9. oneta hayes says:

    Thanks , Faye, for your input. I agree about the importance of teaching all Faith beliefs our world is so small now that there is a need to know the basics of all major worldviews. It is ridiculous to ban something as important as religion from education. Those of us who know Christ, who know why we are Christians need not fear anyone who is seeking truth. The Word of God will defend itself if presented my trustworthy messengers.

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