Motivation and Education

Motivation and Education

The basic principles of motivation are really quite simple: the teacher must identify the value of his course, design the curriculum accordingly, and name the value explicitly. If he does this properly, he can dispose of the pizzas, gold stars, and rulers, and enjoy the radiantly eager response of children who really grasp what they are learning and why.

Tell Me Everything You Know

Tell Me Everything You Know

I have invented a new educational game. I call it “Tell Me Everything You Know.” Here is how the game works in my grammar class: I write a sentence on the board, set a time limit, and then have the students write down every grammatical fact they can name...
The Real Math Magic: Understanding vs Memorizing

The Real Math Magic: Understanding vs Memorizing

These children are not treated like human calculators, they are treated like thinking beings. And when they truly grasp the concepts they are using, when they can explain them fully and articulately, when they retain them because they are not memorizing, but understanding–that is real math magic.

Yesterday’s Highlights: Stories From Home

Yesterday’s Highlights: Stories From Home

We at VanDamme Academy love hearing stories about things the students do or say at home that reflects their VanDamme Academy education. I recently asked parents to share some stories from home. Here are a few highlights: Calvin (5): I was talking to Calvin about the...
The Writing Process: One Step at a Time

The Writing Process: One Step at a Time

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (or NAEP), the average high school student is an incompetent writer. To evaluate their writing ability, testers asked high school juniors to write a paragraph based on notes they were given about a haunted...
The Failure of Field Trips, Part 2

The Failure of Field Trips, Part 2

In my recent article “The Failure of Field Trips,” I explained what is wrong with traditional school outings. The typical field trip is irrelevant to the students’ education, either because they have been unprepared to appreciate it by their...
The Failure of Field Trips, Part 1

The Failure of Field Trips, Part 1

Many educators stress the importance of field trips–opportunities to get students out of their desks and away from their books, and to give them direct, vivid, sensory experience with the world around them. Reflecting on my own education, these excursions off...