Re: “Real learning comes mainly with true grit,” Jan. 2.
I read with interest and a little skepticism Geoff Johnson’s column, particularly where he cites the methods of dealing with failure used by mathematics professor, Edward Burger.
As a retired teacher with 35 years of experience in the B.C. public school system, I knew of only a handful of teachers who neglected to go over exam questions commonly missed by students.
It is rare indeed to have students do homework or classroom assignments and not provide for review of problem areas to ensure learning.
The difficulty is finding the time to otherwise deal effectively with failure when classes are bulging at the seams and curriculum requirements are added to constantly. Most teachers are happy enough to get the course covered with time to spare for reviewing for a final exam, let alone taking time to engage in some of the “high-quality failure” strategies used by Burger.
At the university level, it is more feasible to employ such methods whereby failure can be used as a positive.
I remember a professor at the University of Victoria in the late ’60s who would require students to construct a new question on a missed test item that had to demonstrate much more than just memory-level understanding of a concept.
Crafting a test question requires as much understanding as answering one. The argument simply boils down to the adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Failing is not the end of the world.
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