Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
Most adults remember learning their times tables and to this day can easily tell you what 7 x 8 equals. Many can also name all the Great Lakes by recalling the acronym “HOMES.” When spelling, I always remember “i” before “e” except after “c,” or when sounded like “a” as in neighbor and weigh.
I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal by David G. Bonagura Jr., a New York teacher and writer: "What’s 12 x 11? Um, Let Me Goggle That" (WSJ, Op-Ed, October 31, 2013). The focus of this article is that practice, memorization, and drill are often replaced by the ability to quickly find answers electronically. In many ways, modern teaching theories have replaced memorization and drill with “discovery” and “child-centered” learning. Mr. Bonagura’s argument is that memorization and drill have been viable parts of education around the world for centuries, and still have a significant and valuable place in modern teaching.
I couldn’t agree with him more! As an early elementary teacher, I believe in the important balance of “discovery learning” and the ability to recall facts. Not only do memorization and drill help a child easily remember and retrieve facts, they serve as exercises in perseverance and self-discipline. And, those are qualities that serve a child well beyond any classroom setting!
What do you think?