Jeff Carroll - Legendary Texas
Shade Tree





In one way, the LEGENDARY TEXAS stories stand on their own. They are short enough for use in many situations, can be read simply for pleasure and used to illustrate a variety of topics. In addition, however, they can serve as a springboard to other disciplines. Central to any use other than pleasure reading is the fact that, with a planned discussion strategy, they can encourage within the individual the ability to obtain, organize, translate, interpret and apply bodies of knowledge or information. In short, the stories can be a rather painless path to critical reasoning.

Take a few minutes and study the chart on Survival Values in Learning on the next page.

This information is relatively old, but refers to mental processes that, we are told, don’t change. According to this chart, in any learning environment, the retention rate of nonsense syllables and filler material used in lectures, etc. drops to about 18% after one month and levels off at about 10% in three months. That is where it stays. Factual material, such as dates and even names of people, shows a retention rate of only about 42% after one month and then drops to 35%. This is bad news for those who only teach factual bits of information without any conceptual glue to hold them together.

Conceptual schemes, such as cause and effect relationships, time line progressions and space / time relationships, fare a bit better. From a peak retention rate of about 55% after one month they drop to about 50%.

Keep in mind that educational psychologists agree that you cannot teach much material without the use of concepts and facts. However, if that is all we teach, our overall success rate will be relatively low.

Take a look at the top of the chart. Motor skills, which drop to about 75% after one month, hang on at 70% for the rest of your life. In truth, you don’t forget how to ride a bicycle and a little wobbly practice after even 50 years will bring you back into original form. Unfortunately, motor skills are not usually part of a social science education, UNLESS WE PUT THEM THERE with hands-on involvement.

The real winners in retention are the thinking skills processes and attitudes. This is not always good. Every student is an example of Newton’s Law of inertia. Every student comes to the teacher with attitudes about individual subjects, the process of studying and themselves created in some other learning environment at some other time. The same applies to thinking skills. Once these attitudes and thinking skills (or lack thereof) are fixed, they assume the inertia of rest and it may take a really big pry-bar to move them. That is why, to get full value from the stories, you and I both need a strategy to lift facts and concepts to the level of thinking skills and new attitudes.


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