Thursday, September 29, 2005

Inductive vs. Deductive

As an English teacher with students who are several grade levels behind in reading and writing, I feel an almost desperate sense that no time can be wasted within the walls of my classroom. For this reason, I rely much more heavily on deductive instruction rather than inductive.

The strength of deductive instruction is that it allows the instructor to explain materials at a more rapid rate. This gives me the opportunity to share knowledge with the students rather than waiting for them to find the answer. The con is that some studies have shown that inductive reasoning is more effective when it comes to retention rates: but so far, in my classroom, deductive instruction has proven effective based on scores from various assignments.

Inductive instruction works great, but I feel it it more beneficial to science and math teachers. With inductive instruction, students find the rule after going through several examples. They make arguments based on observation rather than rules. Science experiments and mathematical theorems lend well to this style of instruction. English maxims in some cases also can be taught in this way: for instance, I did use inductive reasoning to teach the five parts of a sentence. In general, though, I find deductive to be a quicker, smoother, and simpler mode of instruction.

Reality Check

These kids do not care about their future.

This is the conclusion I reached during the two days I spent as proctor of the PLAN, a test meant to prepare students for the ACT.

I expected students to struggle with the test's grueling 3-hour long format. But I thought they would at least give it the old college try. Sadly, by the end of two days spent watching students flounder their way through the test, I realized these students were not willing to try much at all. I also realized that almost none of these students understand the connection between high school and standardized tests and getting into college and getting a decent job.

Few students spent the alloted time working on the test. In fact, many students filled in the bubbles randomly before putting their heads down to take a twenty minute nap. I watched in horror as students left large sections of the test unfinished, sitting up defiantly with a look of, "I don't have to try, and you can't make me plastered on their face." Some students even went so far as to distract others, either by making comments or rattling their necklaces or passing gas. I felt as though someone had dumped a bucket of ice water on my face, as I came to a saddening realization: most of these kids aren't going to "make it."

I'm familiar with all the stats, and I came in here knowing that most of the kids I'd work with are not going to go to college. But seeing them treat this standardized test as a joke or a torture sentence made me feel all kinds of different emotions, none of them good. I felt angry that they were wasting this opportunity to get an education; certainly their grandparents never had this chance to earn money for college. I felt sad that the students have no idea what it takes to be successful outside of Hollandale, MS. I also felt depressed in the knowledge that college really is a pipedream here, and it is more of Mr. Hebert's dream than that of my students. The reality is that I care more about my student's success than they do. This is a scary thought. But it will motivate me to hopefully do the best i can for these kids, and I just have to hope that some of my attitudes toward education will rub off on them.