Sometimes the solutions that are the most obvious are also the most difficult for people to see. Take public education, for example. Our educational system has utilized the same methods of instruction that were instituted over 150 years ago when compulsory attendance laws were first put into place. Think about that. In all that time, the powers that be have found it completely unnecessary to rethink our country’s approach to education that was inspired by the Prussians, of all people.
That sheer fact alone is absolutely absurd to me because, let’s face it. America’s schools are failing, and they have been for quite some time. I think it’s become clear to most people now that schools are not teaching the way kids learn. Instead of our children being treated as the individuals they are, they’re expected to be cookie cutter images of one another.Our kids are being taught using the same curriculum, being given the same assignments, and being punished if their learning style does not fit that of the traditional classroom.
With all the talk circulating about education, chances are that you’ve heard at least something about learning styles, even if it was only an innocuous comment. Although there are many, many styles recorded, they all fall under one of three main categories: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic.
It’s common knowledge that schools utilize a method of learning that most greatly benefits auditory learners. Kids who are able to sit still and pay attention to a teacher’s lecture do better in school and seem ‘smarter’ than the rest. It’s also common knowledge that the amount of students receiving special education services has risen dramatically in the last several years.
But here’s something to think about…has this increase occurred because this many children really do have learning disabilities, or has this happened because children aren’t being taught in the way they naturally learn?
Education reform is a topic that will always promise to bring about heated debate. And out of all the discussion going on about how to best help our schools, what is the one way that government bureaucrats insist is the only way to help? Testing and increasing standards.
Sometimes I feel like knocking on their heads and saying, “Hello? Is anybody in there?”
When are they going to realize that this problem will never be remedied by tests and red tape but will instead only be fixed by a complete overhaul of the entire system? And there is one easy solution that seems to elude these “education experts” every single time:
Instead of separating children by grades and using the same tired teaching methods, separate them by learning style. Just as kindergarteners are often tested upon their entrance to school to see if they’re ready, students could be ‘tested’ to see which learning style fits them best.
Auditory learners would attend classrooms rich with audio books, music, oral presentations, etc.
Visual learners would be presented with lots of pictures, diagrams, maps, and videos.
Kinesthetic learners (those unfortunate children who often have the ‘pleasure’ of being mislabeled as ADHD) would be given the opportunity to perform lots of hands-on activities, experiments, note-taking, and be given the liberty to move around instead of being confined to a desk for six hours a day.
As for the cost? I haven’t done an in-depth study on this, but it is my opinion that most of the materials that would be available in classrooms such as these would be far less than the huge expense schools face from purchasing textbooks for every student…textbooks that aren’t truly teaching many children anything.
This almost seems too easy a concept to grasp, so why haven’t schools attempted this? One word.
In order to admit that it is completely normal for children to learn in different ways from one another, they would have to give up the millions of dollars they receive in funding for special education students. Now, of course, there are students who really do need these services, but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t at least entertain the notion that the vast majority of kids with IEPs don’t have any learning disabilities at all.
So, instead of doing what’s best for the individual child, our government education system would rather keep receiving their money, even if it means that millions of children will be unfairly stigmatized for the rest of their lives.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that the traditional school model of education is much easier to exercise control over the student body. After all, it might be dangerous if American students were for once encouraged to think for themselves.
And we wouldn’t want that at all, now would we?