Forcing the Horse (Student) to Drink [Quote]

Disclaimer: The use of any horse metaphors in this post is strictly educational and does not reflect the views of this author in comparing teaching students to any equine activity.

Photo courtesy of arkorn |
Photo courtesy of arkorn |

Today’s post is not about horses or their drinking habits. But it is about how we view learning and the consequences of viewing learning in a poor manner. In Weimer’s text, Learner-Centered Teaching, she talks about a colleague who used the adage “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” to refer to how learning can often happen in the classroom.

I loved the ensuring quote:

In general, our instructional policies and practices do not make students thirsty. Rather, we tell students that they are thirsty—that they should be drinking. They remain unconvinced and so (mostly out of concern for them), we force the issue. We use rules, requirements, and sticks to try to hold their heads in the watering trough. Most do end up drinking, but a lot of them never figure out why water is so important. A few drown in the process.

Good thought. This happens to our students when we as teachers are more concerned about “covering the content” than ensuring that we are making our students thirsty. Our job is pretty simple. Put salt in the oats (content) that we give out. How? Engage your students in the learning process and make them do the hard work of learning. Don’t do it for them. And you know what? Students will drink…willingly. And you will stop having to use CPR on those you forced to drink from your “pools of knowledge.”

Community Input: What kind of teacher are you?



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