Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Templates and worksheets and kids

Template worksheets are a horror to me. They bore me with their routine fill-in-the-blanks repetition, leaving little scope for outside the box thinking. The point of the template is to think within the box/es provided in any case. It's an extrinsic form of discipline, forcing a particular and artificial flow of thinking through an equally artificial problem, giving the impression that there is only one path to a solution.

But that's just me. I discovered today that kids and templates are a marriage made in heaven. How to make kids sit and focus on a piece of work? Give them a template exercise and they'll be furiously scribbling away, trying their darndnest to fill up the empty boxes like a salaryman attacking a sudoku puzzle. And I sit there with one raised eyebrow wondering why it's gone so quiet all of a sudden.

True, it's an exercise we've done several times over already, so the familiarity must have something to do with it. The structure helps focus and discipline easily-distracted minds to the routine task.The steps to solving the problem are spelled out and the expectations are clear. Or clearer, anyway, than just a blank sheet of paper and a mess of possibilities.

Me, I learn intuitively and introspectively. I enjoy the freedom to explore, to pick up ideas, and arrange them in different kinds of odd combinations. Must be due to the lack of education I received during my formative years. To force me to think within a set framework -- and grade me for compliance -- is quite an anathema to my personal develoment, and I was in my day quite a hopeless student.

But the kids are different. Mainstream-schooled, they need their structures and their scaffolding. For them, step-by-step is the way to go. Fine. Point taken.

1 comment:

Leonette said...

True, so true! And it's not just kids, the adults that I run programmes for (like we've only recently discovered) also take to these template worksheets like fish to water... must be all the conditioning from their sch days!