Walk into a public school classroom and you'll see everyone furiously taking notes. You might get the impression that these notes are important, perhaps even vital to the educational process. So much so that teachers will often assign part of a student's grade based on the notes they've taken rather than demonstration of their mastery of the subject.
And so notetaking has come to be associated with the necessities of education. Then, when people with this association in their minds walk into a Sudbury school, they see no notes of any kind. How can this be a serious school, they wonder, without notetaking?
The human mind doesn't need notes to learn. Someone who is interested in a subject they've chosen will simply remember without need for aids. Notetaking comes into play in an environment where it's taken for granted that the students will be bored and disengaged. Notes are required in traditional classes because the teacher expects that the students won't remember anything she said! That's why they need it on paper, so they can find it there rather than their minds, and perhaps cram it all into their brains for 24 hours for the next test.
That's not learning. Notetaking is a sign of educational inefficiency. There's no reason to place it on a pedestal. If you want to see real learning, you should be happy to see a school without notes.
Sean Vivier, MLSS Staff