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Five Common Misconceptions about How Students Learn Today

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There are many myths circulating these days about how students learn or how they perceive and retain various information. Most of these misconceptions are the result of people projecting their own school experiences, however not all of them are applicable to the learning patterns of today’s students.

Here are five of the biggest misconceptions that are related to student learning.

• A quiet classroom with only a teacher talking is the best learning environment.

When students, especially the younger ones, are made to sit still and quiet for extended periods of time, they usually become bored or disengaged. In order to be functional and effective, a classroom does not have to be quiet. The more voices you hear around the room, the more students are participating in the discussion. Some teachers call it “controlled chaos”.

Without doubt, teachers have knowledge to share, but proper learning is more likely to occur when students talk, create, and integrate knowledge into meaningful projects.

• Teaching to students’ interests means making the material easy and unchallenging.

Many teachers today fail to realize just how successful their student could be if they were allowed to apply the material being covered to their own interests. To get the best results, teachers must relate classroom instruction to what students already know.

• All students are comfortable with technology.

Just because they have it, does not mean they know how to use it well. Frequently, the use of technology is limited to googling the information they need or checking their Gmail. The stats here is unmerciful: half of tech-related one-on-one projects that are implemented in schools fail because teachers do not know how to guide their students to use various programs for learning.

• Talking about a particular topic for a long time will be enough for students to understand it.

Many teachers mistakenly believe that if they dwell on a particular topic for a long enough time, their students will eventually be able to make sense of it. Unfortunately, this is rarely the truth. The majority of students cannot fully understand a concept unless it is reinforced with some type of classroom activity that is personalized to students’ interests. Students need to be provided with the opportunity to draw conclusions on their own and discover personal meanings to master the content.

• Traditional schooling prepares students for life.

No, it does not. Sitting comfortably through lectures, learning from a book, taking standardized tests and writing numerous essays has nothing to do with the real-world situations. Instead, students are made to believe this is what they are expected to do once they get a job and when it happens they are forced to learn how to manage their time wisely, how to collaborate with others, how to meet deadlines etc. Almost any job will require them communicate, collaborate, create and evaluate information using each other’s help and the help of technology. Unfortunately, traditional schools pay very little attention to honing these skills.

Teachers and educational experts all over the world need to except the fact that today’s generation of students is very much different from what their predecessors used to be and thus require different approaches and teaching strategies.



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