Motivation and Education

Motivation and Education

The following is from an article featured in the education section of USA Today on January 28, 2008: “Teachers have long said that success is its own reward. But these days, some students are finding that good grades can bring them cash and luxury gifts. In at...
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.

Life in Junior High, Part 2

Life in Junior High, Part 2

Last week, I contrasted the cliché junior high classroom–of raucous teenagers throwing spitballs, passing love notes, and giggling at lewd jokes–with a VanDamme Academy junior high classroom–of young adults in raptures over Cyrano de Bergerac. How we...
Life In Junior High, Part 1

Life In Junior High, Part 1

When I tell people that I teach literature to junior high students, the response is nearly universal: an expression of profound sympathy. Teaching junior high is regarded as a martyr’s job, to be taken on only by those with such a selfless commitment to children...
Writing and Understanding

Writing and Understanding

Several weeks ago, in my article “Pattern Recognition vs. Real Understanding,” I stressed the crucial connection between writing and understanding: For the student to write explanations, in complete sentences, about every subject–whether history,...
The Imperative of Lecturing

The Imperative of Lecturing

Every class in elementary and junior high school should be in a lecture format. The teacher must be an authority on the subject, he must grasp its basic purpose, he must carefully define the knowledge to be conveyed by reference to that purpose, and he must present...