Explain the changes in American education from elementary to the college level?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one particular avenue in answering the question might come down to the basic idea of how children learn and how teachers teach.  In many educational settings, from Kindergarten to 8th grade for example, one finds a dominant instructional mode on basic skills type of instruction.  This appeals to the Sensory Thinking mode of many instructors at this level and, as a consequence, to the students at these levels.  Basic skills, instruction that is comprehensively driven by predictability in outcome and process of instruction, as well as ensuring that learning exists in the thinking realm, one that emphasizes impersonal ways to understand content, and the sensation experience, which is very much geared towards the present tense, helps to create a learning setting where basic skills are reinforced through content and instruction.  Yet, by the time students move into the accelerated courses offered at high school and in what they receive in college, the presentation and assessment mode of content and student work becomes more intuitive, creating open ended questions where doubt and validity become vitally important.  This shift is a subtle one, but it is one that differentiates both the elementary definition of standard American education along with its collegiate counterpart.

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