My wife and I love birds. We have several birdfeeders in the backyard and plant flowers and shrubs that are bird-friendly. Sometimes that means the local hawks thin the flock a bit…but that is part of nature as well. Three different species of woodpeckers frequent our suet and peanut feeders, while – because we also live near meadows and open farmland – a number of species of swifts frequent our area as well.
The evolution of the different species of birds is fascinating. Woodpeckers and swifts have something in common – they both eat insects.
Woodpeckers “peck” or bore into the wood of trees to find insects.
Swifts are among the fastest fliers in the world, and they take their meals on the wing. According to Adam Summers, swifts have proportionately large wingtip bones that allow for added maneuverability in flight.
So as I thought about my question for today’s 30-Day Challenge, I thought about how two species of birds approach the same objective (eat insects) in radically different ways. It is a metaphor for teaching.
Day 16 – As a teacher, do I want to approach teaching (and learning) as a woodpecker or swift?
One can certainly take the “repeatedly hit them with questions” approach, drilling in to the objectives until the objective is met. Cognitive scientists such as Dan Willingham have suggested that students do need to spend time on the fundamentals in order to develop problem solving skills.
On the other hand, that approach might not be appropriate for all subjects or with all learners. In a constructivist approach, one might want students to maneuver around the topic, trying different angles of attack until they surface one that works for them.
Neither approach is totally right or totally wrong…it is a question of mindful application. Which approach would work for you…and for your students?