Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Research Skills Alive

While the Japanese National Academic Standards boasted their worldwide academic achievements, I found some important elements that are lacking in the document.  They are the students' driven research skills.  It is somewhat understandable when you think about their education/social system and culture.  For instance, although the college exams are horrendously hard to pass (and prepare to take), they don't seem to weigh students' individual talents or interests as much as their one-time-test score.  Even in elementary school, there are much less "why" questions among students compared to Americans.

Conversely, the inquiry based instructions in the U.S. have been successful in a large number of classrooms in the last decade, especially in science, social studies, and math, incorporated effectively with writing.  Those lucky students with their skilled teachers have been encouraged to be curious and independent in order to solve their problems.  Along with an appropriate pedagogy, the advanced technology and internet resources contributed their academic successes tremendously.  The Common Core State Standards ELA supports this phenomenon and it is well described:

8.  Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. (Research to Build and Present Knowledge; College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing, CCSS ELA)

Here are my understandings;
1. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources.....You have to have the ability to pick up appropriate books and access a computer device which provides information that helps you understand  your topic.  Ignore distractions.

2. Access the credibility and accuracy of each source.... How do you know if you can trust your source among millions of resources in the internet?  It needs to be taught and practiced in many occasions to master.

3. Integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.....Don't take someone else's credit!
I don't necessarily agree with the standardized tests that are trying to measure this particular skill in each grade level (3rd grade and above currently), however, this standard is a very important skill that help students become independent and responsible citizens.

As soon as youngsters get cell phones, their life expands with too much social media.  Even without a cellphone, younger kids (innocently) spread rumors behind peoples' backs during recess.    How many kids are resilient enough to analyze if it's accurate or credible?  A young person's life is sometimes too cruel.  If kids must have abilities that include gathering and accessing only credible and accurate information, they can then make right choices and judgement in their small community, even beyond English Language Arts at school!

As educators in our community, we have a huge responsibility to raise our next generation to be respectful, responsible, and safe.  This particular section of the CCSS is one of the guiding lights that we can hammer in our own classrooms.