Dr. Delia Pei BBS ,JP.
How should children be taught and from what angle is it the most suitable? This is one of the most argued question. Some experts think that children can learn though playing, and that books are used as teaching tools. Or according to some modern saying, books are not necessary, and that there is no need to limit the children, let them choose what they like to learn. For instance, they can choose the reading books and toys in the classroom. If they want to create an art work, they just choose the materials themselves. In fact, children are like a piece of blank paper, a seedling. If no artists add his creation on this piece of paper, how can the picture be colourful? If no one waters and fertilizes the seedling, how can it grow properly? As I always say, “Education is everywhere”. Of course, theory is necessary, but isn’t it too dangerous just to rely on theory?
Parents are the first teachers for their children. Teachers of young children can be enlightening teachers and they play an important part in their lives. As parents and teachers, when children ask us questions , should we request them not to ask anymore or perhaps even asking them to keep quiet. Maybe it is because we cannot give an answer to the child’s question! We end up saying to the child, “Please do not disturb me anymore!” or use “Don’t ask again” etc. to save face? Instead of losing our temper, why not just say to the child honestly, “Even your mom doesn’t know the answer, why don’t we go to the library one day and read some books on this subject? We’ll find out the answer together! Mom is learning with you. Let’s develop a good habit of learning. When we are not clear about something, we search for the answer. This is what a good child should do.”We must always encourage children. We must not shout at them, as shouting will only stop them from thinking and looking for knowledge.
What is the most ideal way to help children learn and think? I’ve been searching for an answer myself. I remember when I took a one-year course in the U.K., learning how to assess the quality of teachers. Different teachers have different ways of teaching. For example when it comes to an apple, one teacher drew an apple on the board, one brought an actual apple, one used a picture. Children get to know what an apple is through different ways but to teach children about an apple is not as simple as it looks. Firstly, the teacher must be fully prepared for the lesson. Through an apple , children can be taught different subjects including (1) Language, (2) General Studies,(3) Mathematics,(4) Natural Sciences,(5)Geography and (6) History. Some might say that it is an exaggeration to teach so many topics with just one apple. I can assure you, “This is the only way that we can provide an all-round knowledge for the children.” Firstly, when we talk about an apple in a language lesson, we teach the children what an apple is, different varieties of apples with different colours : red, green, yellow and pink. Older children can learn to recognize the words, even older children can learn to write the words, etc.
In General Studies: Introduce the nutrition of an apple, different ways of eating an apple, benefits an apple can have to our health….
In Mathematics: To count the number of apples (determine what kind of teaching tools can be used. Use picture or actual object (apple) for demonstration). If an actual object is used, the teacher can demonstrate how to cut an apple into 2 halves: 2 halves make a whole apple; cut one more time, 4 quarters are made: 4 quarters also make a whole apple. Children can easily understand when the actual object is used. Through this demonstration in a game, they can learn the concept of fraction.
In Natural Sciences: Under the guidance of a teacher, the teacher cuts open an apple, to explain that seeds are found inside the apple, seeds can be planted, and these will grow into apple trees. And what is the most suitable climate for the apple trees to grow in? Explain to the children the structure of an apple. Through this way, we can explain natural sciences and biology through games , can’t we?
In Geography: The countries that produce the most and the best apples are China, U.S.A., U.K., Australia etc. Teachers can use different methods: for example to find out some countries on the map and find out the apple-producing countries. In a relaxed atmosphere, through games and discussions, children learn to discover and enquire. Different themes can be designed for different age groups.
In History: The moment an apple falls from a tree, the experience of Newton can be taught .It is not only a story, it is also history and science, an interesting science. This story may arouse a child’s interest in science.
Using a tiny apple as an example with the teacher being fully prepared for the lesson, an apple can be taught in so many different subjects, it might even take more than a week to just teach about an apple!
Children are like pieces of blank paper, they need responsible adults to add colours to them. Parents and educators are the most ideal people. Let’s work hard together!