I have to say I get tired of hearing about this new software program or this new way to teach a subject with guaranteed success. Learning happens differently for all students. No two learners are the same. However, we buy all these programs, read all the newest books and other literature that supposedly gives us the answers on how to reach each and every student, in the class room with one miraculous approach.
I would say that learners have not changed over time; that they have been the same since the days of the one room school house. My premise is that education changed early in the 20th century and the focus became more on the actual school, teachers and administrators, with the students being left out of the equation. My meaning is every thing became about the process of the school and it’s inner workings and less about the students learning. The industrial age also helped to keep learning less about the individual student and more about process of turning out factory workers who were to remain silent in their desks, which were lined up in nice neat little rows of conformity because that’s what they would be expected to do in the factory–shut up and work.
Now, in the 21st century corporations, groups and individuals roll out software programs that supposedly will fix the lack of learning and enhance student performance. We have “experts” who write books on how to help all children successfully learn in the classroom and perform well on standardized tests. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the picture.
Still, none of this truly speaks to the needs of the students as individuals, within a group setting, each of whom have different needs or learning styles than any of the other 18 to 35 students in that class room. Every product is focused on how this will help the teachers instruct (in some cases supposedly make it easier for them to do their jobs) students successfully. It’s as if each student, campus, district and state are the same and all have the same types of students and needs. We all know that not to be the case. It is of course fantasy for profit. The same can be said for products for administrators and the programs and books that will help make you better at your job and run your campus more smoothly.
Once again, none of this speaks to the INDIVIDUAL student in that classroom and what will work for them to succeed. There are at-risk students, many of whom are really bright, but lack the motivation to do there best for many reasons. Some are just plain bored or the learning process confuses them or makes them angry. Maybe some students work the late shift to help their families out financially and are tired the next day, too tired to care about school work. Maybe a child in second grade, whose home life is terribly stressful and neither parent (if there are two) or guardian cares about education or even the child. What about the high functioning student with Asperger’s in a class room with children who are GT or above average learners, or those receiving Response To Intervention (RTI), 504 or other special education services all in the same class room? Does this generalized book, that training or this program help these students? I flat out say NO, they do not.
Stop buying and throwing all this information at teachers because you think it is the next best thing out there. It really is not helping, it is only muddying the waters. We need to stop driving fast paced curriculum that covers far too many topics in a shallow and uninformative way. We need to slow down so the students can learn the most important topics in an in-depth way that promotes higher level thinking. Teachers bonding and getting to know each student and what works for them is the only way to truly serve these children, so let’s put the emphasis back on the student-teacher connection. Save some money and stop buying every new item that comes along and put that money in the class rooms instead. The class room teacher should be the decision maker on what a student’s needs are because he/she sees them everyday. School administrators should only step in when a teacher asks for help. Politicians, textbook publishers and software developers should not be offering one size fits all solutions in any situation.
Thanks for reading!