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Teacher Says Not To Take Notes


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Forgive me, hak5 forum, for I am about to rant...

I watch my daughter do her homework. I always make sure she writes down what she reads for helping her remember what was discussed/read.

Today, she gets home from school. I ask her to see her notes (beginning of new year... got to stay on top of it)... to have her say that her teacher said that saying it aloud is sufficient. Now, I do not know about you all, but I know I had one thing on my mind when I was in middle school... yup, it wasn't school work. So, assuming she was being lazy, I called her teacher... and he told me that "...listening helps remember more than writing..."... I am pretty fucking pissed...


A : I was lied to my entire life and note taking only contributes to carpal tunnel

B : He is setting her up for failure...

What are your opinions? I am at an utter loss!

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Being a teacher, especially for middle school, is a really tough job. I would try not to be too judgmental of the guy, I'm sure he's trying to do his best.

Taking notes and rewriting things in your own words can help you to remember better than simply reading or listening. My understanding is that the reasoning behind this is that in the process of re-composing you are forced to think about and analyze what you're reading/listening to and understanding it at least well enough to form coherent sentences about it. It's the act of listening and thinking about it, rather than just hearing it but not really paying attention to it, that is most important.

Having students take notes or rewrite something in their own words is one way to force them to pay attention and think about the meaning and not just the words.

However, in a middle school environment kids generally aren't that interested and if they're writing notes, those notes are usually not related to what the teacher is talking about. So for a teacher, it's though. If they appear to be writing there's a good chance that they're not actually paying attention and are actually writing about something else or doodling or something. So it's reasonable that teacher would ask students not to write and look directly at him, at least that way he can tell that they're not doing anything else and can see my looking at their face if they're listen to him or thinking about something else completely.

One of my old math teachers shared with me these insights:

1. If seating is not assigned, where students choose to sit is a strong statistical indicator of how interested they are in the class. The closer they sit to the board, the more interested they are in the class.

2. Statistically, students who sit closer to the board will get better grades than students who sit toward the back. Apparently this is true regardless of whether students choose where they sit or have assigned seating.

You might try recommending to your daughter that she sit in the first two rows in all her classes. It may improve her chances of getting better grades. Also, if she's sitting at the front then it's easier for the teacher to determine if she's paying attention or goofing off. If he can see that she's taking notes about the lesson then he may decide not to tell her to stop.

As a last resort, you could talk to the school counselor and see if you can get your daughter identified as a special needs student and get her on an IEP. This can be a double-edged sword, because on the one hand she could get a special dispensation to take notes in class, on the other hand she would be classified as having a learning disability and that tends to carry a social stigma.

When I was in middle school I was formally diagnosed with ADD and put on an IEP. I was given extra time to complete tests and allowed to a computer instead of hand-writing assignments. My parents also tried medication for a while, but my grades actually got worse when I was on Ritalin. In classes where was ahead of the rest of the class (English and math) my teachers often allowed me to work on my own and didn't harass me about paying attention (time I mostly spent reading up on computers and programming languages).

By the time I got to high school I had managed to develop coping mechanisms and stopped taking advantage of services and dispensations I was entitled to. Most of my high school teachers didn't even know I had an IEP.

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Thank you... reading that helps me understand the flip side of the coin. She has something similar to ADD (So do I for that matter, :) ), and I know that a lot of my energy (especially now a days) are pushed towards bettering myself, as a person and as a professional. I know if I hear something that I am not interested in, I will not pick up certain "parts" of any given topic. I can understand his positioning more now. I took my meds, and helped her with her homework.

Thank you, Sitwon.

One more question... Am I helping her when I assist with her homework (using what I know, opposed to what the teacher actually explains), or am I just costing her points for doing it :The Old Way:...? I hope that question is formatted correctly, as my meds are kicked in pretty well at this point.

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That's a tough question. As I'm sure you're aware, self-learning is one of the most powerful and effective types of learning. We want to students to figure things out on their own and build their critical thinking and problem solving skills, however we also have a desire to help students who appear to be struggling. Figuring out where to draw the line, when you're helping them and when you're just confusing them or spoon-feeding, is a difficult challenge that both parents and teachers face.

We also have to be careful because sometimes the things we learned as kids aren't being taught for good reasons. For example, some of the stuff my Dad wanted to teach me, I later found out had been disproven as scientist gained a better understanding of physics and chemistry. So it made sense that it wasn't included in the curriculum.

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