Updated: Aug 15, 2020
My university office overlooks the oval-shaped conference hall used for examinations. I noticed that before students entered the hall for exams, they would leave their notebooks outside. However, after the exam, very few took their notebooks back, many chose to leave them there. This made me remember that from an early age, students only wrote notes dictated by the teacher. One of the marks of a good teacher in the conventional system is the quantity of notes given in each lesson.
Students only took notes and kept them solely for exam prep, not for deep understanding.
After exams, they would barely remember what they learned. Those notebooks left by outside the examination hall is a testament to this. None of the words in those notebooks truly belonged to those students. Nor did they represent any record of individual learning or growth.
Introducing the Notebook Methodology
We want to introduce the notebook methodology at FICA. Our students have notebooks, however, they have not learned to use them to effectively record what they learn.
When they have projects, we have observed that they copy and paste information from Google search engine without analyzing it. Unlike today's access to instant information, the notebook methodology requires time, diligence and effort from the student.
While in the conventional system, the teacher dictates or writes notes on the board, in ACE, it’s the student to write (not copy) notes from his own understanding of a PACE. Each notebook is a permanent record of a student's productivity.
The notebook methodology aims at producing self-teaching students. Every student is expected to exercise integrity of individual labor and responsibility.
Self-education cannot be realized until there is an integral commitment to overcome one’s ignorance and possess a mastery of the subject for himself.
Once that mastery is acquired, we expect students to use the notebook to record and steward their own learning. For each subject, the learner will have a different notebook, or one notebook with dividers. With each PACE completed, there must be a record of what was understood in the student's own words and handwriting. Since completed PACEs and tests are kept by the school, the notebook becomes the student's ‘text’ for revision in case similar concepts appear in the next PACE.
What do the Notebooks Signify?
Notebooks are the students' personal property and a record of their individual progress. This is where they have invested their time and intellect.
The notebook is a record of a learner’s responsibilities and productivity.
The students are producers as they take ownership of the learning process.
It assists parents and teachers in overseeing progress and visually demonstrates the character development, diligence, and responsibility of the student.
It aids in the Biblical purposes of education by "enlightening the understanding, correcting the temper, and forming the habits of youth that fit him for usefulness in his future station.”
The notebook methodology allows learners to use the 4Rs - Research, Reason, Relate and Record.
Research and examine with continued care; students seek diligently for the truth.
Reason: this is a thinking process where we learn life-changing principles from God and His Word.
Relate it to other areas of study and the world around them.
Record what has been learned using writing skills, original thought, and creativity. Each child's notebook is a reflection of his unique individuality!
God's Principle of Individuality requires that students are able to research, reason, relate and record what God is teaching them about a subject. Since each learner's perceptions and abilities are developed to a different degree, each notebook should be a reflection of this principle. ACE offers us a great opportunity to practice the notebook methodology.
Children are already working individually, however, we need them to do more than simply complete PACES and pass their tests.
We need them to develop their stewardship in what they have learned.
We need them to have a permanent record of their learning, of their productivity and their development.
It will be hard in the beginning but as they diligently practice, they will become masters of this soon enough.
"We teach each child the habits of youth that fit him for usefulness in his future station." Webster
This new initiative needs support and encouragement from parents to their children as they practice the notebook methodology.