Debunking the Fads That Shortchange Our Learners
An interview with Michael Zwaagstra, author of A Sage on the Stage
In this interview with Michael Zwaagstra, author of A Sage on the Stage: Common Sense Reflections on Teaching and Learning (John Catt Educational), you’ll hear about some of the fads that are shortchanging students, and the evidence that debunks them. Zwaagstra challenges the notion that teachers should “get out of the way” and let students learn things for themselves, instead, advocating for an approach where teachers exercise their expertise and share their substantial content knowledge with students. He doesn’t argue that teachers should do all the talking in classrooms, but does state that teachers should be in charge of leading the learning process, and describes a thriving classroom environment as one that is orderly, structured, and where students understand the expectations.
As you listen to the interview, consider Zwaagstra’s perspectives, along with the reflection questions below, and think about how they match up with your own experience:
• Were you surprised to hear that there’s no evidence to support the existence of different “learning styles?” With this in mind, how might you adjust the teaching strategies in your school?
• “Is there evidence that this is going to improve learning?” This is the number one question leaders should ask themselves when deciding whether or not to purchase a new technology, according to Zwaagstra. Have you consistently applied this question to your purchasing decisions? What other questions should leaders be asking?
• Are there any other education beliefs, not mentioned in the interview, that you believe are myths that should be debunked? Based on your experience, why have you come to view these ideas as myths?
Learn more about Michael Zwaagstra’s book, A Sage on the Stage, and more great John Catt Educational publications, by visiting us.johncattbookshop.com
About Michael Zwaagstra
Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher and author. He has extensive teaching experience at a variety of grade levels and currently teaches high school social studies in Manitoba. His second book, A Sage on the Stage: Common Sense Reflections on Teaching and Learning, was released in 2019.
As an educator, Michael is a strong proponent of raising academic standards, holding schools accountable for their results and expanding the educational options available to parents. His reports and op-eds have addressed topics such as curriculum reform, teaching methodologies, assessment, and classroom management.
His columns promoting common sense education reforms have been published in major daily newspapers including the National Post, The Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Province, the Calgary Herald, the Winnipeg Free Press, and the Chronicle Herald. In the 2013 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards, Michael received second place in the Outstanding Columnist category. In 2014 and 2019, he received the Best Columnist award from the Manitoba Community Newspapers Association. Michael is also a frequent radio and television guest across Canada.
Follow Michael on Twitter @ZwaagstraM