Nana Has Wrinkles

Learning, laughing and loving in a world that tells it like it is.

The Velcro Schema Theory


A friend recently reminded me of a very significant “aha” moment I experienced about five years ago. I noticed that when the friends of my children came home from college for a visit and I had my teaching supplies strewn all over the kitchen table, the kids would dive for many of the texts on the table and exclaim something akin to, “OH! I read this sophomore year in Mrs. Mench’s class. I LOVE this book.” After a while I would bait them, eager to see if this reaction would hold true. It did–sometimes even accompanied with closed eyes and the book held tightly in their hands. Many, many teachers were mentioned by name.  Not once did anyone say, “Oh, the character development in this book is so unique!” or “The themes contained within this book were extremely significant to my development as a person!”

Kids need to connect new knowledge to something already present in those very full and very active brains.  In my theoretical and untested hypothesis, those brains contain filing cabinets with the faces of many teachers on the front. Kids remember classrooms, the way a classroom smells, the soft classical music playing in the background, the way the light filters into a room during a certain time of day, and the classmates that surround them. They file all of those sensory experiences behind each teacher’s face on the filing cabinet drawer.

Teachers are the velcro to which new learning sticks. Carefully crafted lessons and adroitly led discussions combined with high expectations and a warm, respectful environment create fertile ground for new thinking. Years from now, they may not remember the names of each character in a book, but they will remember the pleasure of learning in that time and in that space. They will remember the significance of being connected to other learners, other humans, as well as the experience and power of creating new thought.  And all of it is neatly organized in that filing cabinet.

posted under Education

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