“Boring” drill and practice and “rote” memorization are the constant scapegoats for education failure among America’s public educators. The tired school rhetoric running down such traditional practices gives one the impression that schools across the country are numbing the minds of students through antiquated “drill and kill” practices from which students need to be liberated.
But Barbara Oakley, author of A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra) and Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential, has a different view:
“The way you learn intensively for a language is very similar to learning well in math and science,” she says. But that isn’t the predominant view among American educators.” In learning math and science through K-12, it’s long been held that practice and repetition will kill your creativity,” she says. “One mistake we make in the school system is we emphasize understanding. But if you don’t build those neural circuits with practice, it’ll all slip away. You can understand out the wazoo, but it’ll just disappear if you’re not practicing with it.”
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