Monday, October 10, 2011

Brain-Based Learning: Guideline Eight

This week's educational theory is the sixth brain-based learning guideline according to Dr. Sousa: 

Practice does not make perfect.
That might sound odd, especially since the previous week's post was rehearsal is essential for retention. Before I started applying this guideline to my children and students, I wanted to read more because it sounds misleading.
On page 99 in How the Brain Learns, Dr. Sousa states that practice does make permanent, not perfect. Students should practice learning correctly from the beginning, and not have to relearn, which is difficult. With this, Sousa suggests that educators give guided practice, and then independent practice. 

This immediately jump to shoe-tying and buttoning skills that my four-year old works on. I wonder what happens when you cannot give the guided practice first. For example, he has seen me tie shoes thousands of times. He tries to cram the shoe lace together and wave his hands; I know he thinks this is what I do. It is probably what it looks like to him. 

Now that I am trying to teach him, I wonder if I am teaching someone who is practicing incorrectly and must relearn. In situations like that, is is even possible to change? Will children automatically have to relearn some things in life because they have preconceived notions of completion?

This also made me wonder about the noun-pronoun-adjective differentiation assignments some of my students struggle to learn. Those words can be used interchangeably which makes them confusing. Originally, I did guided practice before I let them practice independently. We are still going to practice more this week, because the grades could be better.

So here is my question: even if teachers/parents follow this brain-based learning suggestion, how do we ensure that students are practicing correctly? If it is troublesome to have them relearn, how do we ensure they practice right?  

Photo Credit