In Public Schools

from the "outside" looking "in"

One Size Does Not Fit All

Posted by Admin On March - 28 - 2011

                                                                             DAZED     WHY SHOULD ONE SIZE FIT ALL OR NOT?

 Each child is an individual and learns differently from the next child. Teaching to those individual differences is often easier said than done. However, there should be common goals and requirements for all students. These shouldn’t change because a child is slower, but our system should step up to the plate and change the method of presentation for these pupils. 

We have lost our path in the American school system attempting to justify individuality. In the beginning, adjusting the learning environment so all children could succeed was an excellent idea. However, someplace along the line, we lost our way and suddenly, we found ourselves adjusting the required outcome rather than the teaching technique.

Lowering expectations of students because of ethnicity and background is not only lowering the standards of the schools, its extremely unfair to the children it attempts to help. At one time, the suggestion of teaching Ebonics in the classroom and factoring in ethnicity on achievement tests to make them fair, was a prominently voice concept. Unfortunately, these types of innovative practices only lowered the overall learning results but also left children ill equipped to face the demands of life after school. Employers don’t care about your background or justify your performance at work based on ethnicity. They demand results.

Besides the academic standards changing in attempt to fit each child’s needs, the level of personal responsibility changed too. Johnny comes from a broken home and you should allow him to disrupt the class. After all, it isn’t his fault. Mary’s disrespectful mouth comes from living in an underprivileged neighborhood, so let her slander the class and the teacher. All these types of actions eroded the teacher’s ability to discipline.

At the same time, teachers no longer were individuals and therefore didn’t receive the same concessions as the students. In fact, if a teacher made the right attempt to control the classroom, parents often saw them in a negative light.

With all this said in favor of the “one size fits all approach,” there are places in education where individualizing is important. Not every child learns at the same rate or in the same way. Some children are quite visual and immediately decipher the pages written and material on the board. Others fare better when there’s a lecture and learn more from listening. There’s no one right way to learn and no exact method of arriving at learning experience. Teaching using various techniques is just as important as teaching to every level of learner.

Children don’t always grasp the material at the same time. If they did, our task of teaching future generations would be easy. Not every child is a math whiz and sometimes those well versed in math fail to understand the basics of reading. For these reasons, efforts to vary the teaching so that each child accomplishes learning the lessons are important.

This does not mean we lower expectations. It simply means we hunt until we find the right combination to make a breakthrough for the student. One educator once said that every child could learn any material given enough time, no matter how slow he was or how difficult the material. The difference is the amount of time necessary. This statement is true. However, our classrooms do not have with an unlimited amount of time. Because of this, we need to make stronger efforts to get outside help, extra tutorial teachers and parental involvement to bring the slower learner up to speed.

Not every child wants or needs college. Not every child is college material either. Children that have a talent in working with their hands in areas that do not require a college education should have the opportunity to advance that talent with classes that focus on the type of work that interests them. College degreed individuals do earn more over their lifetime, however, it doesn’t make their jobs more important than those that don’t require a degree.

We no longer respect the people that fix our cars, build our houses or do jobs that require brawn rather than brain. However, without an auto repair specialist or plumber, our nation would be in a sad state. They’d be many a college graduate with water up to their elbows or taking the bus because they have no concept of how a vehicle runs.

Diversifying our educational system to allow for individual talents and interests beyond just college prep is important. We need people to fill every job and each position is important in our country operating successfully. Dedicating special classes to professions in the trades would elevate the public’s view of the position and guarantee adequate service individuals.

The result is that we need to have standardized expectations in both level of competency and classroom behavior but modifications in how we reach that goal. Once students learn the basics, adjusting for individual differences is important. While doctors are necessary, if everyone was a doctor, they’d be no one left to create the tools used for the job, repair the ambulances, build the hospitals or create the drugs. Diversification of classes for individuals at the higher levels is also important.

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3 Responses to “One Size Does Not Fit All”

  1. I like the way you write!!! keep it up!! happy new year

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