Students become teachers

Teaching others is sometimes the best way to learn. A Westside educational partnership between Waimea High School and Waimea Canyon and Kekaha elementary schools has made learning physiology fun.

Victoria Mann, science teacher at Waimea High, has her students complete a workbook that they, in turn, teach to their younger counterparts. A subject that explores the mechanics of the human body — from metabolism to vision — is of interest to all ages, and the earlier it is understood, the more likely young people will stay in tune to their health and well-being.

The fifth-grade classrooms of Penny Shimomura and Holly Camara welcome the high school students for a hands-on presentation using models, games and workbooks prepared by the older students.

“The high school kids have to create this book as a part of their curriculum,” Camara said. “They have this saying: ‘You know you’ve learned it when you can teach it.’”

The high schoolers have made the booklets during their own class time and integrate the facts when they reiterate the subject to their younger colleagues. Teaching others is sometimes the best way to summarize and make the knowledge one’s own.

“One of the things they have to learn is about the human body system, so I break the class up into groups and the high schoolers teach them with their book” Camara said.

In a recent report, published by the Committee on Development in the Science of Learning at The National Academy of Sciences, success in learning was based largely on the vital contribution by the immediate environment and community. “Although a great deal of children’s learning is self-motivated and self-directed, other people play major roles as guides in fostering the development of learning in children. Such guides include other children as well as adults (caretakers, parents, teachers, coaches, etc.).”

The report went on to note, “Before students can really learn new scientific concepts, they often need to re-conceptualize the information in their own terms.”

The Westside physiology exchange achieves this while also building community at a deep level; Mann, Camara, Shimomura and their students lead the way for more of these fruitful programs around our island. As Joseph Joubert famously remarked, “To teach is to learn twice and truly.”

• Keya Keita, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 or kkeita@kauaipubco.com.

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