Don't Teach, Enable
Many parents explain concepts to their children. Then, they assign practices. They correct practices. Finally, they give feedback for improvement. The more they do this, the more their children hate studying. Thousands of Singaporean children spend 12 years learning Chinese, but still cannot speak, nor write it halfway well.
Yet, almost everyone teaches like this because everyone thinks that effective teaching = making things idiot proof for the children. In my experience, this bores them and turns them off studying.
The same parents also note that their children can learn some things without being taught. Some teenagers learn to speak Korean simply by listening to K-Pop and learning to dance K-Pop.
Yet, no one teaches like this.
We like to teach our children by telling them things in an idiot proof manner, almost as if children are too dumb to figure things out from complex stimuli. Yet, your toddlers learnt to talk in your mother tongue without you explaining concepts, assigning practices nor giving feedback for improvement.
Children’s brains are built for figuring things out. If we taught by enabling them, instead of feeding them with idiot-proof explanations, they would enjoy studying a lot more.
Parents turn pale when they see the difficulty of my work. Yet, none of the children do. I recently assigned a leadership research paper to 2 mothers to read with their boys. Both mothers turned pale and said, “Dr. Pet, there is no way I can get them to understand this research paper. I barely understand it myself!”
Dr. Pet said, “Let me show you.”
Enabling With Materials
I gave the boys the research paper with certain parts highlighted.
Enabling With Guiding Questions
All I did was to ask 5 questions.
At no time did I explain anything to the boys. In fact, the boys explained everything to me. Then, the boys realized that they had just figured out a research paper from a top tier organizational psychology journal, all by themselves. They even found it interesting!
This was how I taught my own children.
By the time both went into secondary school (in IP NYGH and IB of ACS(I)), both were strong independent learners. Neither had tuition. Yet both scored in the top of their cohorts for ‘A’ levels and for IB. The Daughter scored 8 A level distinctions. The Son will be going to Cambridge.
During the entire month of Home Based Learning, if you are experiencing a lot of stress working with your children during Home Based Learning, please type your issue/question in the comments below. I will troubleshoot for you and post my advice in future posts.
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Petunia Lee, Ph.D
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