Friday, February 7, 2014

No Two Children Are the Same - Unless They Are in the Classroom.

I am currently chaperoning a field trip for Model U.N. Since the kids are in session about 90% of the day, I have taken the time to gradeish (def. - getting distracted by TV or the internet while papers are in front of you occasionally being marked).

Needless to say, I have watched A LOT of HGTV and Food Network.

One commercial keeps popping up for Sylvan Learning Center. No matter what kid they choose to use, the story is always the same: the kid is disinterested in school, he goes to Sylvan, and *bam* he becomes interested in school.

After hearing/seeing the commercial so many times, I decided to start actually listening to what they say. The tag line is "Learning should be personal."

They follow a four step program of "Assess - Plan - Teach - Apply" in order to make children actually excited about learning.

There is nothing wrong with this approach. Actually, I love this approach. Asses your student's needs, plan the a lesson best for them, teach the lesson, and then have them apply it so that they can prove they fully understand it. This model assumes no two students are the same which is great!

So why can't we apply it in schools?

Why do schools assume every child is the same? Why do they think that everyone can take the same exact test to prove they know this knowledge? Why must we assume that every child can prove they learned the information the best by taking a test? Why do we assume children all learn the same?

Just because it was the way you learned, doesn't mean it is the way your child learns. Maybe the fact that places like Sylvan exist is not a good thing but a bad thing. We see many disinterested children and automatically assume something is wrong with them since they don't seem to excel in the system that has been virtually unchanged in decades. What if the problem isn't the children but the system? What if the reason they are so disinterested is because the system is failing them?

Why is it, that my grandparents can tell me stories about high school, specifically how they were taught and asked to prove they know the information, and they sound like I could have told them about my high school days?

My generation is different from my grandparents. My students are slowly starting to become less like my generation and more like their own. So why does education assume that each of these generations, with completely different learning styles and lifestyles, can all learn the same way?

Shouldn't we actually take the message of Sylvan and apply it to how we actually teach children? Wouldn't that benefit them for the future and the progression of the world in general?

The answer is yes, we should be changing education and stop forgetting what we did in the past and focus upon what we are going to do in the future. In 100 years from now, hell, in 50 years from now, the world will be a completely different place yet, education will still pretend it is 1973.

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