Monday, June 28, 2010

A Continuation of What To Teach

My wife and I went to a musical concert last night--it was loud.  I'm not sure I could teach music to this generation.  But then.....I thought back not too many years ago when I went to Vancouver, BC and was fortunately invited to visit on of the premier bagpipers in the world.  We were graciously welcomed to the downstairs family room, daylight basement if I remember correctly.  Rather long and narrow with many chairs on both sides.  There was a crowd of us and we found seats and conversed among ourselves.  Pretty soon John McDonald was asked to play his pipes which we all were hoping for.  

He got his pipes out, tuned the drones and soon was playing tunes of glory, marches, happy melodies.  It was a beautiful sound but loud.  Pipes are just that, loud.  No volume control.  Finally he started playing Piobaireachd, the classical old music of the pipes.  John was an amazing piper and the sound though loud was pure honey to the ears.  We all listened with great enjoyment--it still is one of the best times in my piping memory.  

There were several families there that had little toddlers--perhaps one or two years of age.  Wiggle worms who settled down when John started playing.  Somewhat near the end of the concert, for a concert it really was, someone asked John to play some was time for the wee ones to take a nap.  I was sure that the sound from those great Highland bagpipes would keep anyone awake, not put them to sleep.  But John dutifully went into lullabies with his pipes.  And I was surprised to watch the two little ones dutifully nod off and close their eyes.  Nap time had come.

You may be wondering why I started today's blog with this incident, however, John Dewey makes a point in his first chapter (Democracy and Education) that we as a society need to convey our knowledge, customs, values, and history to our young if our society is to continue and to continue to progress.  And we do this, Dewey contends, by indirect instruction and direct or formal instruction.  Those two wee ones in the basement of John McDonald's home were being given indirect instruction in the ways of a Scottish family in British Columbia. I wonder if they will always remember the beautiful sounds of those pipes putting them to sleep.  Indirect instruction.  I hope so as I would want this bit of culture to continue in our society.  John has since passed away--he was a grand piper.

I am beginning to be concerned about the swing in our thinking of education in the United States.  While there are still some who favor testing, measurements and firing all the teachers (a bit of my sarcasm), there seems to be a trend to moderation and a return to the more traditional concept of schooling.  My concern is that the pendulum will swing much the other way.  "Get rid of the new and go back to what was good in my grandfather's day."  "In my day....."  I offer three examples of my concern.

The first is Leigh A. Bortins' The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundatons of Classical Education.  The second book is Martha C. Nussbaum's Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities and my third example is Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School system: How Testing and Choices are undermining Education. I was appraised of these three (although I had already read Ravitch's book on my Kindle) tomes by Stanley Fish in the June 7th issue of the New York Times.  His article is entitled:  Classical Education: Back to the Future.  Mr. Fish writes of his classical education which included "four years of Latin, three years of French, two years of German, physics, chemistry, biology, algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry, English, history, civics...." and then he had French club, Latin club, German club, Science Club and on and on.  Dewey would consider the clubs indirect instruction while the other classes would be formal direct instruction.  What a combination.  I am envious of Mr. Fish's education.  I wish I had had that in my high school.

But my worry and indeed, I am good at worrying, is that we will toss out the baby with the bath water.  No, I'm not for saving the testing part but that we will not include some new stuff that is needed.  Such as:  keyboarding, computers including some programming (I dislike programming), television, and ethics in technology.  Actually the young in our society may be learning all of this indirectly but I feel formal instruction would not allow any of our young kids to fall through the net.  

So, here is another bit of thinking of what should we be teaching our children.  Sort of a cautionary tale of not going to far the other way.  I am still against all the testing that has gone on.  But I can also see the possibility of throwing out other items of value in our curriculum.  Be careful in your thinking.

To those teachers of Latin, French, German that I wish I had--thanks for your teaching of Stanley Fish.  He writes well.  And for all those teachers who haven't been thanked, listen carefully as I play a Lament for you on my pipes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"You've Got To Be Carefully Taught"

I apologize for not writing sooner but I have been reading....and reading.  First, I have been re-reading for the third time but still getting much from it in John Dewey's Democracy and Education: An introduction to the philosophy of.  John left high school teaching to pursue philosophy in teaching and he wrote this work around 1916.  I have to admit I have only covered the first two chapters as I read his writing and then have to put it down and think.  Probably the most influential work I have ever read about education.  Most of my philosophy is based upon this book.  

In a more contemporary view I was intrigued by an article by Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a professor at Princeton.  Her article is titled, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught"  in the June 28th issue of The Nation.  She comments about how many in the southern states are changing emphasis in the textbooks Concerning ethnic studies, Latino literature, American Sovereignty and separation of church and state in order to influence their students in schools.  While this is not new, it does play a part in our discussion on what we should be teaching our kids. Should the schools be a vehicle for social change in this country?  So...Professor Harris-Lacewell cautions us to watch those groups who wish to have a specific curriculum for our young.  She reminds us with a song from the 1949 musical, South Pacific that :You've got to be taught to hate and fear,/You've got to be taught from year to year,/It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear--/You've got to be carefully taught."

On a more upbeat side I listened to Diane Ravitch on PBS advocating for a more traditional approach to what we teach the kids.  Traditional being what we did in the fifties and sixties.  I tend to agree with her comments but am sad to see so many school districts under funded and so many of her desires like Art and Music and PE are being jettisoned.  In my local district a well respected and successful string (violins, cellos, etc.) is being dropped because of costs.  Sad because research has shown that those that participate in music do better in reading and arithmetic.  But money is scarce.  

In the same thread, Stephan Covey who has written at least a library full of books on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has now entered the  K-12 ranks of those suggesting how we teach and what we teach our children.  But let's give Mr. Covey some credit--he has at least worked with a charter school and has seen good results.  Earlier the Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina was in danger of being shut down but improved dramatically by using Covey's seven principles with the students.  If by some chance you have been out of touch for the last twenty years, those principles are
 1) taking personal responsibility and initiative, 2) getting clear about what's important to you and setting goals, 3) putting those priorities first and being disciplined, 4) seeking mutual benefit in all interactions with others -- the golden rule, 5) seeking to understand others from their perspective first before making your point, 6) valuing differences and creating third-alternative solutions to problems that are better than "my way" or "your way," and 7) taking care of and renewing yourself in all four areas of life -- body, mind, heart and spirit. 

I'm for anything that helps kids.  This is an interesting approach.  And I suspect, not too costly.  But please note--this is method, not content.  How to Learn, not What to Learn.  It gets confusing at times.  

It seems appropriate to return to Dewey and why we teach our children.  Dewey suggests that as a species if we didn't teach our young it would be the end of mankind.   For example if each of us died knowing what we know but haven't passed it on to our young, they would have to repeat our learnings to continue.  In essence, the species would stand in place, perhaps go backwards.  In Louie Armstrong's "In a Small, Small World,"  a line goes somewhat like this....that the young will learn more then we now know."  That is because we pass on our knowledge in someway to our young to continue on.  And Dewey suggests that this is done by informal and formal instruction.  In primitive societies, most learning is informal, where the young watch the adults and emulate them at the proper time.  In more advanced societies, formal learning is provided in more effective methods by means of tutors or classroom instruction.  

So we are back to where we started--what should we teach our children.  Can we decide on those subjects without religion or politics making inroads?  In the next few weeks let's work on the curriculum.  What would be an outstanding education?  As Plato once said, "What knowledge is of most important?"

Have you thanked a teacher recently?  A pat on the back never hurts.  And they appreciate it.  

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What should teachers teach?

Since the birth of our nation and since the beginning of public schools in Boston we have agonized as to what we should teach our children.   The basic problem has been whether we teach the young person for a job or do we teach the young to be educated.  I don't know how many words I've heard on both of those positions.  And I suspect that argument will continue for many years.  

Along the way many interesting tales have emerged.  When the device which we now call a typewriter was first invented, women who learned to use it were called "Typewriters."  They would go to a company and say, "I would like a job, I am a typewriter."  The machines eventually took on the name, typewriter.  Now there are children in school who have no idea what a typewriter is.  

There is also a museum in Boston that supposedly has a letter written by a company that said that "this company has no intent to hire "Typewriters."  You, as a customer, will always get a hand written letter such as this one."   Isn't it interesting that today we are grateful if we get a boiler-plate e-mail from a company and heavens, if we try to talk to them by phone.  

But the question remains, what should our children know when they finish school? Should schooling be so that each child will be able to do a job?  Where does college fit in?  Do we teach our children so that they are prepared for college?

Then there is that old statistic that I have always wondered about; you've seen it several times.  It goes, "We will have eleven (to fifteen, depending upon the author) jobs in our lifetime of which five (up to eight and beyond) have not yet been invented."  I don't know who first wrote that statement but it has been fluttering around for over a decade in various forms.  Margaret Mean wrote something to this effect, that "we should teach our children to walk along paths that we have yet to see."  Either way the question as to what to teach our children remains.  

Another old saw to worry us is the statement that there will be one hundred and thirty seven new jobs invented in our lifetime.  Okay!  I've got three to go!  I'm teasing.  New jobs are being designed, composed, invented, though up, by the hundreds everyday.  Given all this "new stuff," what should a person learn?

I've just re-read then ending to Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education where she suggests what we use to teach in the classroom: the arts, reading, writing, science, social studies, arithmetic, literature, and so on should be the focus for our present day curriculum.  To some extent I agree, but I noted that she left out keyboarding, googling, computer skills, internet skills, and ethics.  I'm not surprised as I believe her to be a true idealist.  I found her last chapter very interesting.  I have now returned to John Dewey's Democracy and Education.  (Yes, yes, all on my Kindle--more on this later.)

[A digression.  A few months ago I finally found Google Scholar.  What a delight.  Apparently it is in Beta testing but for my dollar it is a find.  I will probably be a pain to my medical team as I read all the latest on heart problems.  Type Google Scholar and ask your question.  You will be surprised]

With Google Scholar I finally find Leslie Briggs' book on Instructional Design and the Curriculum (Sequencing of Instruction in Relation to Hierarchies of Instruction), published about 1967.  One of my favorite.  (maybe I should 
look for an old copy).  But I remember Briggs writing that we in education only need to teach three things to our children.  First, How to Communicate.  This section includes reading, writing, dance, music, arithmetic, drawing and art.  The second thing we need to teach is about "the Self."  Who are we?  What makes us tick?  How do we improve?  The third area Briggs call simply, "The Arts" but he included science, history, literature, geography and just about everything else not in the first two sections. His communication area would do well today--just add all of the new technology.

The one area, that of the Self, still not has been well accepted in the public schools and although I have little to no data, I suspect the private schools have ignored this area as well.  I think the schools think this infringes on the parents rights.  Perhaps but I think we can do much more in this area. 

You will note that Briggs did not mentioned teaching for jobs or work.  Rather he was looking at the old question, "What is an educated man?"   I would change that to "what is an educated person?"  In the next few weeks I will follow up on some other people who have suggestions for our modern day curriculum.  What should we be teaching our children. And when should we teach different subjects?  Briggs had something to say about this as well.  Hmmmm, keyboarding in the first grade.   A difficult task but let's see if we can make our way through this fog.

Thanks to Leslie Briggs, many years ago for getting me to think about what a curriculum should be.  Maybe he is why I fought testing for so long.  Thanks, LB.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Teaching Sailing and Learning..

A couple of people suggested that I comment on the young lady who was attempting to sail around the world and recently got dismasted by a major storm.  You need to be aware that for a number of years I taught how to sail, small boat seamanship, piloting and cruising for several local charter companies.  I hold a Coast Guard license for 100 ton ships (now retired)--sounds large but they aren't.  Small tour boats, whale watching boats, things like that.  But primarily I taught aboard sailboats.  I like sailing and have sailed in a number of boats for around fifty years....mostly in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, the Gulf Islands (British Columbia, CA) and Desolation Sound (also BC).  I like teaching and I like giving back to my sport or hobby.

However, a few folks who know me asked my opinion about how I felt about the family who let their fifteen year old daughter go sail around the world by herself.  My first reaction to these questions was to follow one of my idols, Lionel Hardcastle (As Time Goes By--TV series) (Geoffrey Palmer) lead in that " is none of my business what that family does. It is their business."  But my friends persist in their questioning.  "She is so young!"  "They have no right to let her go out on the ocean that way."  "They are being negligent parents."

I've thought about this since Abby Sunderland left many months ago on her pink boat.  At that time to myself I wished her well.  And in my opinion she has done well.  So have her parents.  Abby is one of six children (with one more on the way) and from what I've read the children all appear to be independent, intelligent young folk.  I think "parenting" is just that--getting your child to be an independent, self secure and intelligent person.  Man, would I like to have Abby in my high school classroom.  She would be a delight to teach.  She might even teach me somethings.  This is one mature young lady and my hat is off to the parents to raising her.

Once again, my favorite sociologist, Margaret Mead, has documented that many societies send their young out into the world in some form of danger to prove that they are worthy of being adults.  True, it is mostly the boys, but some cultures demand much of the girls as well.

And before some say what a dangerous challenge Abby undertook lets look at some facts.  The boat is a retired round the world racer with five sealed compartments to keep it afloat.  It is called an Open Sixty and is rigged to be sailed by one person.  The boat is a technological wonder with winches that permit Abby to change configuration of the sails, solar power panels to recharge batteries, a special bed to allow her to sleep no matter what the conditions, special storage areas, and electronics that are amazing.  She had gadgets on board that would announce other boats in her area, gadgets that would tell her if she was off course, radios that kept her connected to her family as well as support team back in the states, and computers to tell the world how she was doing.  She was blogging in the southern forty.  And she knew how to operate all this equipment.  

But she hadn't just set off with no training--she learned from her brother who had already gone around the world in a sailboat.  She had on a number of occasions ferried other boats to other ports for their owners.  She had made several ocean journeys.  She had the education necessary to take on this challenge. 

For those who haven't followed this story, her boat was hit by a major wave during a storm and she lost her mast.  Without a mast, she is basically dead in the water.  It was time to call in help.  That itself must have taken courage.  The Australian government sent out a plane, located Abby and her boat through some great electronics and then coordinated a rescue by a major French fishing boat.  Now if I know the French they are avid sailors--they probably were racing to get to save Abby.  I can hear them say (in French of course), "'tis an honor to pick you up, Miss."  This is the law of the sea--we help each other.

I had great parents when I taught grade school.  I couldn't ask for finer parents.  They were interested in their children and wanted them to succeed.  I suspect Abby Sunderland's parents are the same way.  Supportive and nurturing.  I'm glad Abby is safe and on her way home.  Well done, Abby. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Summertime and the living is easy...

Many schools are out for the summer.  Because of limited financial resources many school districts have cut back or eliminated summer school much to the delight of students and to the dismay of many parents.  Young teachers are probably going back to colleges and universities to gain some more credits so as to get a bit higher on the salary schedule.  Older teachers with masters degrees are probably sleeping in--what a luxury.  No papers to grade. 

So, lets have a little fun with an assignment for you all called "what if..."  What if you were going to teach a class, what electronics, technology, new stuff would you want to help you teach.  Forget about a new classroom, small class size, and three assistants--what would make your teaching hopefully easier and more efficient using the "latest."

Some years ago I did this same assignment with one of my university summer school classes comprised of mostly experienced teachers of all grades.  At that time over ninety percent of them wanted a phone in the classroom to be able to call parents or the school office.  They were tired of having to go to the office and wait in line to use a phone.  I surveyed a few teachers the other day and all have cell phones that they would use.  

However, today's teachers seem to want a copier.  A few of the high school teachers wanted a colored copier so they could do maps and diagrams but most just wanted a good copier.  I know that the high school music teachers want a copier but then feel guilty about making copies since at least some music publishers provide for so many copies per instrument.  But you always one or two kids more playing in a section then you have music for--hence a need to make copies. EXCEPT it is against the copyright law to do so.  Some publishers are now sending out just MASTERS with the agreement that you can make copies enough for your school, no more.  Some music teachers like this type of an agreement and so they would like a "dry photo copier" in their classroom--not down in the teachers lounge.

Back when the "TRS-80 computers" from Radio Shack were first coming on the educational scene, most teachers want the new computers in the library--not in their classroom.  They use to tell me that they would prefer to take the class to a computer lab then have a few in the classroom.  My limited research showed that they didn't use the labs very often.  Out of sight, out of mind.  But today's teachers seem to want some if not all computers in the classroom.  At least ten computers with at least two printers.  But several teachers wanted a full complement of computers for all of their students.  That might be possible in a few school districts but most could not achieve that level.  

Some of my limited research in intermediate grades seem to show that having two or three kids per computer was optimum for teaching.  But I could be biased as I had already follow some of the small group research findings in some sociology classes that showed students (college level) learned more and faster in groups of two or three.  But if I were teaching in todays world at the intermediate level, I'd like ten computers for thirty kids.  If i were a high school music teacher I think I'd like the same amount even though my choirs and bands would be larger.  BUT I would also like some specialized music computers with keyboards for composing, rearranging and mixing as well as a sound studio for recording.  The old tape recorder just won't cut it (pun intended). 

For the primary levels I would need enough computers in class to teach keyboarding.  There are good software programs already available so that all I would have to do is instruct the class on how to get started and I would have the kids record their own scores.  But I am still fascinated in how primary teachers are going about teaching reading and spelling and writing.  If any of you want to bring me up to date I would appreciate it.  Greatly!

So a copier, cell phone, some computers...what else would a classroom teacher like to be able to teach more effectively.  I was surprised in asking some active teachers about the Smart Board ( and found a number of them were not familiar with the technology.  I hope my school of education is using them so that new teachers will be aware of the possibilities.  In summary I would WANT a Smartboard in my classroom--no matter what grade level.  

Another technological device that was not mentioned by experienced teachers was the camcorder.  I'd take about a dozen, thank you.  Okay at least four for a grade school classroom.  But it has to come with a projector or let me plug it into the SmartBoard.  I can see many uses of a camcorder in classroom.  High school Civics class--"show me a potential problem in our community".  Any level music, no brainer.  The kids making music or dancing.  Sports--heavens, coaches have been using television camera for ages--not a new idea here.  Second grade, have a child record themselves reading out loud.  Here is an idea, after the student gets a video of themselves reading well that the student is happy with, copy it onto a flash card (small memory device) and send it home to be played by the parents.  Proud parents make a better learner, trust me.

As a teacher I would have some of the students video me as I taught.  What a way to improve.  Believe it or not, in 1967 I taught at another university where at that time we could smoke in the classrooms.  I smoked a pipe.  In one class I videotaped myself teaching, then watched it afterwards to see how I was doing. I looked like a damn fool lighting and relighting my pipe.  In my mind I thought I looked distinguished but on tape it was terrible.  I quite smoking a pipe that day.  Really!  The power of video.

Another question about technology that comes up is should students have cell phones.  Heavens, yes!  What a safety device.  But I would have rules for use in the classroom--when the bell rings put them in your backpacks until you get ready to go home in the afternoon.  But, if on your way home you see a strange bug, take a picture of it and bring it to class.  We'll identify it.

So that is your assignment--what technology would you want in your classroom. Identify your classroom and tell me which technology and how you would use it. DO NOT PRINT IT  but send it by e-mail to with the subject:  Assignment !.  

One more idea.  Let's say I have a fifth grade class, thirty kids with at least four or five Hispanic children in the group.  Why not use some software on the computers to teach all the kids how to speak and read Spanish with the Hispanic kids being able to help the rest of the class learn their language.  That would be so cool.

Don't forget your assignment.  Assignment number 2 is to go thank a teacher today for the past year's work.  Tell them you appreciate what they did for the kids.  Thanks, teachers.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

You're cheating!

I noticed that my old university that I taught at for many years is getting ready for finals week.  Someone in administration schedules when classes can take a final test and the schedule goes from Monday to Friday.  But woe be the professor who has a class final scheduled for Friday.  It takes guts to stand up to a group of students who want to get going on their summer vacation/job.  I hope by now there is some way to give an exam using technology such as Blackboard software.  That could help the students out immensely.

But if scheduling is a major problem in university final exams, I suppose cheating is right up near the top.  In fact for some teachers in the Kindergarten-12th grade or community college, cheating is also a problem to address.  In today's world the pressure is on to be successful at any level.

The word, "cheating," comes from an original middle English word, escheat, with the same meaning...which really means that we probably have been dealing with this problem since the stone age.  I classify the concept "cheating" with words like, creativity, love, patriotism, loyalty and faith.  We all know the word when we see it but we have the dickens of a time describing it.

I've had colleagues at the college level go to extreme levels to ensure that cheating was not carried out in their final exam.  And I listened to students in the coffee shop plot and plan how they were going to cheat on that same exam.  It was a game.  Who would win?

Another colleague in a different college would schedule an auditorium for his class of fifty and seat the students one or two seats apart so they couldn't see another student's exam paper.  A graduate student was assigned the balcony to watch below.  I wonder what he is doing these days with tweets and e-mail messaging.  He was already bald so pulling his hair was not an option.

But I am curious what grade school teachers are doing to control the use of cell phones for digitizing messages to other students in the classroom.  It has replaced the whisper,  "pass this note to Jane," era.

At the other extreme, I once had a colleague who didn't believe in grades and therefore, always gave the letter "A" to everyone in the class.  He taught philosophy and had his arguments in defense lined up in good order which drove at least two Deans and one Provost crazy.  Graduate students flocked to his class--whether because it was an easy grade or because he was a fascinating lecturer and thinker, I couldn't say.  His main concept was that if you were at a university, you were there to learn--that was the student's problem.  If you wanted to learn, fine.  If you didn't he didn't care.  As department chairman, I tended to agree with his thinking.  And that type of thinking certainly erased cheating.  It was impossible to cheat in his class even if you didn't show up.  Although he took no attendance, I can assure you that students always showed up for class.  I checked.

But over the years I have come to my position on cheating is that if we make things hard enough or difficult enough, the student under pressure will cheat.  I think when a second grade teacher says that if you miss more then one word on your spelling test, you can't go out for recess, we have set up an environment to promote cheating.  I once heard a professor of education philosophy talk about the pressures we put on K-12 students (he was from the University of Florida but I have forgotten his name) and he said it was like putting Sophia Loren into bed with a guy for a week and when the inevitable happened, you then say, "You shouldn't have done that!"  Somewhat my position.

However there is some odd research on cheating.  I once had in my fourth grade an early version of a teaching machine.  It was a strange looking metal box that sat on the student's desk.  Near the top was a plastic window with an oblong opening in it in the center of the window and an opening on the right side.  I would load the program which was on standard paper into the box and it would show up in the window--some instruction and a problem.  The student was suppose to read the instruction,  solve the problem and write the answer on the right side in the opening.  Then with the eraser tip of the pencil the student was to push the paper upwards in the box to reveal the answer underneath the student's answer.  Immediate reinforcement, eh?

However, as some of you have already surmised the natural inclination would be in case of a wrong answer to move the paper back down with the eraser, erase the wrong answer and then write the correct answer in the space.  Voila! A perfect paper.  Except it didn't work that way.  The inventor of the teaching machine had installed little knife blades facing upwards and if you pushed the paper down with the eraser, it would make pin holes in the paper as well as keep it from being moved downwards.  Ingenious.

Well, it wasn't long before the kids figured out that those plastic things from a man's dress shirt, those plastic tabs that kept the collar straight were the right size to go through the center hole in the teaching machine and neutralize those little knife blades.  Now they could "cheat" and I would not see any little pin picks from those knives.  Hey, I saw everything in my classroom!

My dilemma was whether to yell at the kids not to do that--"don't cheat" or look the other way.  I took the latter course of action.   I was curious if the machine could really teach so I let the kids do the program anyway they wanted.  But I kept track of those that used the "cheating" method.  Not all kids got to use the teaching machine.

At the end of that subject that I was teaching, some arithmetic concept, I gave my own test to the whole class to see how they were doing and to see how I was teaching.  Standard proceedure.  I was surprised to see that most of the kids that "cheated" got the best scores on my test.  How come?  It is my opinion that most if not all of the kids that "cheated" weren't cheating but wanted to get the answers correct.  I had good kids in class and they trusted me.  They wanted to learn.  They liked the new teaching machine box as it let them go at their own speed of learning.  That's important.  And some of them wanted a perfect paper....they wanted to get the right answers.  The fact that it took some effort to "re-do" their paper probably helped them "learn" the material.  That was my goal as well, to have them learn.  From that moment, I let the kids "cheat" with the box.  They learned better.

But I also changed some behaviors in class.  One time I allowed one side of the classroom to look up answers in a test....the other side couldn't use their text books.  And talk about a bunch of kids upset--the ones that couldn't use their books really read me the riot act.  But several days later, i gave the same test and the kids that had used their text books out did the ones that weren't allowed to use them although all the class showed much improvement over the first test.  I then switched sides and did the same experiment mostly to sooth the "wronged" side of the classroom.  Same results.

My feelings are that kids want to do well.  Some have problems remembering, others are sloppy in their habits, some don't read the question correctly trying to hurry, whatever.  But when they find their error, they want to correct it.  I still think cheating is the result of a pressure situation that the student cannot handle--and has little to do with learning.

Thanks to all teachers who want their students to learn.  Many have different methods but the end goal is the same.  Thanks, gang.