Listen, Follow Directions and Learn

I read recently in our local newspaper, The Times Herald, those schools and more specifically teachers are not doing enough to help students who show developmental delays to achieve to their potential. The irony of this article is it was not about helping preschool children or even early elementary school aged children, it was about helping college students who for one reason or another did not learn the material while moving through the K-12 grades. When people read articles or columns like this their reaction is, “why haven’t these students learned anything?” or “What’s wrong with these teachers, how could they pass these students if they have not learned the basic skills or concepts to pass?” The short answer is; stop blaming the teacher.

Most teachers by the end first month of school can identify those students who will be successful and those who will struggle, and those who will be failures no matter what is done to facilitate learning. The good teachers will bring those struggling students around and may even guide the failing student to some success, but no teacher can teach a student who does not know how to learn. Suzanne Doherty a physical science instructor at St. Clair County Community College noted students do not know how to study. Knowing how to study is just one component of knowing how to learn.

Knowing how to learn is the core for learning. At the center of knowing how to learn is attitude. Attitude is everything when it comes to learning. Attitude or disposition is the first step in knowing how to learn. Today’s classrooms are full of students who do not how to sit still, keep their eyes on the teacher

Students today either cannot or choose not to listen and follow directions, two skills necessary for any job in the future. Knowing how to listen is a basic behavior that should have been learned before entering school and for sure a skill mastered by the end of kindergarten. Students should be able to sit still in silence, looking at the teacher or other adult speaking. Too often the teacher has to stop teaching and reign in those disruptive students who have not learned this basic skill. Then the students fail to follow the next basic skill, following directions.

The ability to follow directions is at the very core of all learning. Listening with the intent to understand is the first step in following directions.  Beginning with simple one and two step directions students learn basic skills. As subject matter becomes more difficult students learn to master more complex directions. In my experience, the reason most students fail to follow directions is that did not listen.


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