By Wayne Kelsoe:
A narrowing of experience is happening in lower grades. My friend’s son was struggling with the concepts of area and perimeter, and his teacher expected each student to memorize “P = 2xL + 2xW” and “A=LxW” and take it from there. My friend took his son out to a tennis court with chalk and a tape measure. They measured the perimeter, walked around it, and marked each meter off with chalk. Then they marked off squares and counted them: how many in a row, how many rows and how many total. The lad returned to class with an indelible understanding of how to use perimeter to build a fence and area to buy carpet or paint. He didn’t need a formula because he had a physical concept….
The major task of early learning is to build a robust mind-bridge between the tangible, observable world and the symbolic world of words and numbers that we later use as a means of building more complex models.
Children are spending too much time in the classroom and not enough in the real world. Classroom learning tends to be one-dimensional compared to multi-dimensional reality. Activity-based learning through computer games may offer a partial bridge between the two.