VERY IMPORTANT LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST
I was having a very interesting conversation last night with a friend about education, and among the things we discussed was the failure of educators to see past “misbehavior” in children for their true potential. Too often, a student is labeled as a “behavior problem” or an “underachiever” or “average” and then treated as such for their entire school career. And usually, that student will live up to his or her label.
What bothers me about this so much is that it’s not a failure in the child; it’s a failure in the teachers and educators that are stuck on old ways. That don’t understand children in any significant way, don’t understand the biological differences between boys and girls (the subject of a very interesting article in this week’s NYT Magazine) and they don’t understand that often the “misbehavior” is not the result of a bad child, but rather of a poorly challenged or poorly motivated child. Sometimes you’ll have parents who will defend the child (like my mother who always told teachers at parent-teacher conferences that I was acting out and calling out in class because I was bored) and won’t allow an incorrect label to follow them. But very often, the parents either don’t know that the child has been labeled, or don’t know enough to dispute it. Many parents aren’t equipped to be child psychologists or educators, and this isn’t their fault. It’s not bad parenting, it’s why you send your kids to school to begin with, because you expect that those who are qualified to educators and child psychologists will be there to educate them. It’s a major problem in the education system, that many teachers are unwilling or unable to see each child as an individual, and eduate that child to his specific needs. I’ve said it before: chanoch lana’ar al pi darko. A child can only learn if he is taught in the way that suits him. There is no one method that works for all students, and forcing rigidity on children only harms them, while forcing an artificial distinction between students as able and unable, which is based not on true ability and potential, but rather suitability to the chosen method. That’s not fair to the children with true ability and potential that are stifled by the method, and who get stuck with a label that follows them around, and often contricts them and their ability to succeed.
Anyway, all that tangent was really an intro to this. Children aren’t just different from each other, they are different from adults as well, and what works for adults, doesn’t work for children. So adults that try to teach without realizing that what they can do, and the way they process information is different than what their students can do, will fail at reaching the students. How many teachers try to reach students on the students’ level? (Not many that I had). This is biological and physiological. Children see, hear and sleep differently. So much so, that while you may jump out of bed when you hear the fire alarm, children can sleep right through it.