Coffee and Curveballs

“If baseball were taught the way we teach science (in schools), we would talk to students about famous baseball players until they were 8 or 9 and then maybe, when they were 10, they would be allowed to throw the ball occasionally. We wouldn’t allow them to play a game until they got to graduate school.” That’s just one of many gems Alsion Gopnik throws our way in “How to Teach Babies” (June 16th Toronto Star.)

Gopnik is critical of contemporary education. “They don’t teach the way children learn… fundamentally, babies are designed to learn… You want to know what it’s like to be a baby? It’s like being in love for the first time in Paris after four double espressos.”

The best kind of learning, according to Gopnik, “occurs through hands-on exploration guided by experts.”

Gopnik would be wildly enthusiastic about the Primary Years Program because so much of what she believes resonates with the IB’s focus on inquiry.

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2 Responses to “Coffee and Curveballs”

  1. Matthew Lees Says:

    While I’m often wary of sports analogies when applied to education (my former career) and in business (my current one), Gopnik’s baseball analogy is a wonderful one. Participation and immersion are such effective methods — for all ages, I think — that it boggles the mind they’re not used more. They not only help people learn the “rules” (i.e., how things work, whether baseball, government, nature, cooking, etc.), but also how to successfully accomplish something (be a good baseball player, an effective legislator or political activist, an insightful scientist, or an expert chef).

    Not to mention that “hands-on exploration guided by experts” is so much more fun. If this is one of the guiding principles of the Primary Years Program, it is exemplary indeed…with or without coffee.

  2. Adam de Pencier Says:

    The National science curriculum of Japan (grades 1 to 8) addresses this problem wonderfully well: children are equipped with a simple hardcovered notebook and before each lesson write out materials, method, and hypothesis. They proceed to conduct an experiment with their partner. Every lesson. Every day. Q.E.D…

    Adam de Pencier
    English Department

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