Diana Senechal criticizes our cultural emphasis on takeaways, “the surety squeezed from things unsure,” in a TEDx talk.
Teachers must teach lessons with takeaways that will fit on a poster, she says. Bound to standards-linked objectives and student-centered teaching, they design vapid lessons.
For example, students might read Polonius’ advice to his son: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
They spend days evaluating the usefulness of bits of advice, writing a rubric to evaluate advice, reading a non-fiction article (Common Core!) on giving advice, and, finally, creating an advice manual with a quote from Shakespeare and a quote from the non-fiction article. In five days, they never discuss the context of Polonius’ speech, says Senechal.
It sounds agonizingly boring, doesn’t it?
The author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture, Senechal created and taught the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School in New York City. She’s working on a new book, Take Away The Takeaway.