Somewhere on the internet you have seen it, probably in a ‘viral’ image. It’s attributed to bad-weather kite flier and slave owner Benjamin Franklin, and goes like this:
Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn.
“Ooh, Marc, can you please tell us why this gets on your nerves so much?”
It would be a curmudgeonly pleasure!
It is used by teachers to talk about ‘learner centredness’ but dismisses teachers.
It smacks of the dreaded Learning Styles hydra that refuses to die.
“Teach me and I remember” tells us nothing about the method.
“Involve me and I learn” is just baseless.
It is also a mistake in attribution and a poorly summarised translation.
While my wife may tell me to clean the bathroom and I may forget, remember that this is not a classroom situation. The classroom is a place for learning. It may be a social construct but it is one that has been reached by some kind of social consensus based on an agreed location. People go there to learn, whether by listening to teachers or watching them or whatever. This whole “Tell me and I forget” essentially negates anything said by anybody in a classroom or anywhere else.
“Tell me and I forget” suggests that Ben Franklin was not an auditory learner. So perhaps he was a ‘naturalistic’ learner, or an ‘experiential’ learner, what with the story of the kite and the thunderstorm. Absolute rubbish! If a bloke is clever enough to wheedle his way to the top of a puritanical yet hypocritical wealth-driven society he’s clever enough to pay attention to what someone is telling him.
Are we teaching through mime? Diagrams? Song? Guided instruction? Ben, someone just told you what to do. Couldn’t you have taken notes? That would definitely help you remember. While multi-modal instruction is useful to really hammer home a point, there is not always time for it.
I’m all for learner-centredness and even moderate a Google Plus community about it. The thing is, you can involve learners in any activity but if it isn’t thought out in a principled way to develop emergent skills (language use or skills in reception) then learners are only learning that busy work and jumping through hoops pleases teachers. It’s why I hate unprincipled use of games in teaching. It’s pure filler!
So, that’s why. I must state that this is not a post to say that you are a bad person if you have shared this quote. You may have used it to support an argument about learner-centred classes versus a droning teacher and a PowerPoint. However, you’d be better of not supporting your argument with an incorrect attribution when there’s a perfectly good Chinese quote to support your view.