- Ada, Oklahoma


June 19, 2013

Teaching, learning and experience


Ada —

As a teacher, this has been most instructive for me in so many ways.  While I do like to learn really weird things for no reason at all, learning is actually easier when I do have a reason.  When I know — when I really, really know — that something is going to be useful, not only the sitting down and putting myself to the task of learning is easier, but the learning itself comes more quickly.

Teaching students that they are “going to use this one day” is a perpetual challenge.  When you are 14, you don’t know the sorts of things you are going to need to know when you are 24 or 34. Heck, when I was 40, I didn’t know the sort of things I need to know at 50. Our crystal balls just aren’t that good. A “good student” will go through the motions just to make the teacher happy and they will learn a lot, don’t get me wrong.

But when you’ve stood in a pharmacy and have mimed to a pharmacist that you have bronchitis, it has an effect on you.  When you go to a fancy restaurant and order a mixed grill and they bring you blood sausage, tripe, and bull-testicles, you remember.  It is truly motivational. 

I guess what I am trying to say is that experience can be an excellent foundation for learning.

Not only does experience provide motivation, it provides context. It’s one thing to read in a book or see on a computer screen that a “parada” is a taxi stand, it’s another to read the word above the taxi stand, see the taxis, hear the traffic, and smell the exhaust.  

This is true beyond the learning language.  The more we as teachers can connect what is in the book to things students can touch with their hands, that they can taste, feel, and smell, the better they can learn.  Having received that reinforcement can help them realize that learning, even for its own sake, is a good thing.

(Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at and You may contact him at We invite you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.)


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Do I have to be numb to serve?

    How well do you do watching the channels on TV that show sick and starving children in other countries?

    July 23, 2014

  • Too much sodium can be a health risk

    Salty potato chips. Salted popcorn. Salt on French fries. We are a nation that loves salt. Although it enhances the flavor of foods, too much sodium is not a good thing.

    July 19, 2014

  • Working cattle during summertime heat

    Understanding and avoiding heat stress in cattle can be a valuable management tool for summertime in Oklahoma.   


    July 19, 2014

  • NASA says life on other planets is no longer a fool’s errand

    It has always seemed unlikely to me that this universe, the size of which renders you and me microscopic, could contain only us. Then again, it could, and certainly authors of “The Privileged Planet” make a strong case for it.


    July 19, 2014

  • Historic icon raised to celebrate Capitol's 100th birthday

    It was with great fanfare nearly a century ago that Oklahomans crowded into cars or horse-drawn buggies and paraded to 23rd and Lincoln.


    July 19, 2014

  • Jerry Duncan Are there absolutes that can be trusted?

    Back in the 70s there was a film series with the philosopher Francis Schaeffer titled, “How Shall We Then Live.” He described how every nation that became the leading nation of the world had a discernable and predictable rise and fall.


    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine is a personal tragedy for one Ada resident

    Democracy is the worst form of government, the sage has said, except for everything else.

    July 14, 2014

  • Franz case raises troubling questions

    Dear Editor,

    What kind of law and judges do we have in Ada?

    July 14, 2014

  • Fourth of July celebration capped week of fun events

       Over 380 eggs, over 100 water balloons, over 40 turtles, boxes of ice cream bars, unlimited prizes, rope and a creek, judo, longest standing 5K/10K race in Oklahoma, cans of whipped cream, colored powder celebration, motorized train, Bernoulli’s Principle, miniature golf, shaved-ice snow cones, fire truck hose wars, and a most awesome fireworks display that scared the ducks all the way to Wapanucka. 

    July 14, 2014

  • Common Core: The untold story

    Oklahoma public school educators may be forgiven if they liken themselves to a soccer ball in a World Cup championship match.

    July 14, 2014

AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands

Who do you blame more for the trouble in Gaza?

The Israelis
     View Results