Are Students Sponges?

by Matthew Koslowski on September 2, 2009
in Anecdotes

When I told my co-worker, Bill, that I wanted to be a teacher, his memory of Mr. K– jumped to his mind. As I listened to him recall Mr. K–, I thought that I could be and hope to be Mr. K– for someone some day. I’ve at least got the right initial. I could see that this man had really moved him.

“I remember,” he said and his eyes lit up, “one history teacher that I had in high school, Mr. K–. He was like a father to me: I fixed him in my memory, the age he was when he was my teacher. I bawled when I learned that he died.”

What Bill said next stunned me.

“I’ll never forget what he said to us.” Bill paused and shook his head. He shifted in his seat and it I could see him calling up the way Mr. K– had carried himself. “Mr. K– looked at us and said, ‘You want to be sponges!’ he said, ‘You want to sit there, receive knowledge as if it were water, and wait for me to squeeze it out of you with some test! C’mon guys, you need to think for yourselves.’”

How relevant in our climate of high-stakes testing and teaching-to-the-test.


One Response to “Are Students Sponges?”
  1. MZ says:

    Teaching to the test, score assessment and standardized everything has become much of what I hate about our educational system. While there’s no good way to really divine a student’s level of comprehension without extended, hard to grade without subjectivity essay tests, there was a time when the mile to get a real answer wasn’t too far to go. Also, students have become, as was stated, info sponges. To do well, they need not internalize knowledge, just remember it rote, note for note.

    And these are the people who ace college throughout and then fail their thesis because they can’t defend it without returning to some rote information. There’s no internal process, no critical thinking. Sad, this world some days. I hope you get that dream!