Part 2: Learning May Not Be Simple–The Student’s Perspective

In Part One of our “Learning May Not Be Simple” series, we discussed the complexities of presenting new information in an average classroom, as well as how a teacher’s management of the class can influence the learning process.  The following highlights the student’s perspective and the complications of understanding new information, particularly for high school students, who are subject to…

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ACT vs. SAT

Since college admissions officers will consider the highest score of either the SAT or ACT (and in some cases mix and match the highest subsection scores from multiple SAT test dates, aka “Superscoring”), then students often ask me, “Should I take both tests?”   Students are usually trying to determine which test will merit them the highest score, to stay as…

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Learn HOW to Learn: The Legacy of Mr. Coombs

At this time of the school year–after first semester grades and well-into the next semester–I receive increased requests for tutor referrals.  Parents and students naturally assume that a less than expected grade in a class is due to content deficit–that somehow the student just “isn’t getting it”; “it” being the ideas and concepts presented in class. The actual issue may…

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“Talk With Your Teacher”: Not Always a Simple Task

“Talk with your teacher” is usually advice that parents give to their high school aged student when an academic issue arises.  Teens can typically have the following reactions to their parents’ suggestion: they silently agree, then don’t actually talk with the teacher or they protest, with reasons about the teacher not liking them or being unavailable or they’d rather deal…

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The Wisdom of Our Parents

Do any of the following concerns sound familiar? “Is my student motivated enough?”  “I don’t want to be a nag.  How much do I remind my high school student to get her/his homework done?”  “When do teenagers normally start taking greater responsibility for their homework and academic achievement?”  I don’t want my daughter/son to lose out on any opportunities for…

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Academic Cheating: No Simple Explanations

Harvard recently required 60 students to withdraw for up to two years, after being found responsible for cheating on a take-home final essay exam last spring.  (The students will be eligible to re-enroll after the forced withdrawal period is over.)  Is it surprising that Harvard students cheat?  Or surprising that 125 students, about half the total government class were accused…

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The Inventors Dilemma

A fun excerpt: dedicated to all the curious and hands-on students who tend to create certain “stress” for their parents, and generally, the adult population around them. Did you know?  As a child, [Thomas] Edison’s home laboratory often produced explosions that shook the house and upset his father. The hard work it took to make a successful electric light inspired…

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The Classroom Transition from Anonymity to Known

The dictionary defines teaching as, “showing or explaining”, and explain in its simplest terms is “to make clear, make plain.”  Making plain takes time and a dialogue to be sure each person within the exchange is in agreement, so with a class of 35 students and one teacher, one can come up with creative ways to “check for understanding”–hand signals,…

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The Human Element of Learning

In the relationship between the student and the teacher, when the personalities are in sync, then you know it.  A conflict–temporary or more on-going–can skew learning and create longer lasting consequences than just the school year.  Understanding any conflict, objectively, takes some effort on the teenager’s, parent’s and teacher’s parts.    What’s a general complaint?  What’s a genuine concern or…

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B.A. in Common Sense

“Common sense can be uncommon.”–Art Baird Every parent knows with certainty their kid is smart.  As Montaigne said, “Everyman has within himself the entire human condition.”  Yet, what does smart mean?  How smart is smart? Is our current generation of budding adults–actually legally an adult–but mere months away from teenager-dome, lacking common sense?  Have we, as a society, prized intellectual…

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Making the Most of Back to School Nights

Making the most of Back to School Night is a tricky proposition–especially for middle and high school parents, who may only spend 10-15 minutes in each of their student’s 6 classrooms–not much time after the teacher completes her/his presentation and 20 other parents are asking questions.   Plus, Back to School Night is usually 2-3 weeks after school starts, so a…

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