Coast to coast travel used to take weeks by stagecoach. Trains speed the process up quite a bit. Now, I routinely fly Atlanta to Los Angeles in about 4 hours.
Technology has sped up how we travel, cook, and communicate. However,
speeding up learning
tends to backfire.
Many an adult is amazed at how quickly a child can memorize. Memorization, however, is not deep learning. Without an understanding of context and development of the skills necessary for application, the knowledge gained is merely surface learning.
There is a push in many circles for “accelerated learning.” My heart breaks as I think about how many children are convinced they are stupid because they could not keep up under the unrelenting pressure of the high-intensity drill and kill approach. It would be easier to do “accelerated baking.” In fact—if you want to try “accelerate baking” just put cookies in the oven and turn the oven up as high as it will go. What you cook will indeed bake quickly—but it will end up burned on the outside while still raw on the inside.
Burned is a good way to describe many children who are burned-out on learning—some as early as kindergarten or first grade. Because the expectations were beyond what their development was capable of in preschool or kindergarten, many live their lives thinking they are stupid and incapable.
On the other hand, some surface learners receive applause for surface memorization and get arrogant. Parents and teachers are often baffled by the number of surface learners who can ace memory tests yet struggle with problem solving and sticking to hard tasks.
When God commanded the Israelite nation to teach their children, He did not tell them to assign their children what to memorize. He spoke of telling stories as you rise up and sit down. Of cooking meals without leaven to help them reenact their history. Of physically doing things like killing an animal and applying the blood to door posts. All of these are things that make abstract ideas (like Passover) real to the children.
In our fast-paced society we think that adding more pressure will somehow move the process along more quickly. The stress often makes it harder for children to sleep which makes it harder for the brain to translate short-term memories into long-term usable learning. We get upset at children for all they forget when the pace we set often leads to the forgetting.
When it comes to a fine dinner we pay more for food cooked slowly by a capable chef. We know that it has more nutrition and taste than fried fast food.
When a baby is born premature, it does not mean the baby is somehow advanced because it was able to lop off time from the normal gestation period. No, premature babies often have to fight for their life because they lack the nutrition and time for development that normally would take place in the security of a mother’s womb.
Don’t buy the lie that faster is better.
Give children and teens the gift of time
to develop at a pace that is supportive and nurturing.
In an age when others are pushing children to grow up faster, if you slow down you might end up with some well-nourished, fully developed deep learners who can understand and apply what they have learned.