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Thursday, 16 August 2012

They all work...or not.

New math, unschooling, whole language, Waldorf, flipping school, Montessori... the list of educational methods is very long and constantly being amended.  And they all work - for some children  And none work for all children.  We want all children to have an equal opportunity to get a good education and that translates into each child receiving the same education.  This is a fallacy that we have been dealing with at least since the advent of women's liberation.  We confuse "equal" with "same".

We do not need educational experts to tell us what any parent of more than one child can tell us.  What works for one does not work for all.  We need to stop focusing on teaching the curriculum and start focusing on teaching the child.  The focus of public schooling is how to process the largest number of children in the most efficient way with the best use of resources.  Sounds like a valid business principle.  Except that children are not products that can be assembled on a line.  And we don't really want what that line would produce, unless we are Orwellian in our social principles.  We want children to become the best that they individually can become.  We want them to be passionate about what they do.  We want them to be successful.  We want them to be productive.  We want them to be happy.

All of which relies on nurturing them in their own unique ways.  To letting them flourish and grow within the context of their passions, abilities, and goals.  The "best" method for that is to educate the child.  Sounds simple and yet rarely happens, despite the best efforts of many good teachers.  The system keeps mandating "best practices", computer generated tests and assessments, criteria that have nothing to do with what is best for the child, or even for society.

Let teachers teach.  Give them the latest research and let them decide how best to apply it.  Use some common sense is assessing whether a child is flourishing.  Listen to parents and employers when they complain about the fact that today's students are completely unprepared for life.  Those in charge of administering the enormous education system need to start listening.  High school should not be something that you suffer through.  It should not just be a place to make friends and learn social skills.  It should be a place of learning and a place where they learn that learning is powerful, engaging, important, and wonderful.  A lesson for all times.

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