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Education Is Not One Size Fits All

It is unlikely that two snowflakes will look exactly alike in fact even if you looked at every one ever made you would not find any exact duplicates. With this in mind, one can further ascertain that no two children are exactly alike and therefore a “one size fits all” method of education does not work. There are many ways that young minds learn and unfortunately many of the typical methods utilized in schools do not always address the minds of all students.

Because every child’s brain is wired differently, we must understand that such differences have a direct impact on the way children learn. For example some students are creative and may have a natural ability to write descriptive and imaginative stories, some children have a natural cognition for mathematical and scientific data while other children may be talented and gifted in the area of sports or even culinary arts. Does a deficiency in one skill indicate a lack of intelligence or determine future success? The answer is unequivocally NO.

There are a multitude of rewarding professions that a child can pursue if given the opportunity to expand upon their individual talents and strengths. In the book, The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told about Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong by David Shenk, the author reinforces this notion. The author dissects and demolishes the notion that some people are "born geniuses" through a careful examination of the biographies of a number of high achievers. The author revealed the common thread that runs through each high achiever is passionate and directed practice and preparation.

The point is, every child can be successful if parents and educators recognize the individual strengths that are instinctive to the child and in doing so, cultivate such talents. Flexibility in learning is also very important. David Shenk reiterated this point, he said, our genes and experiences predispose us to favor certain tasks over others. We are all creative people; we just express our creativity differently. One way we can get the best out of our students is to provide a number of ways they can meet our educational and learning goals. Writing a paper or giving a presentation is not the only method to demonstrate knowledge and skills (nor is taking a multiple choice exam!).

The current methods that are used to measure the brain’s ability to learn for instance focus on standardized assessments and curriculum-based learning and although such systems work for some students, it may leave little room for improving underlying skills that determine student’s true ability to learn in others. The key is to recognize the individual learning style of a child in an effort to uncover effective strategies for teaching.

Maureen McKay, whose website, Optimistic Outcomes, provides tips for parents based on a child’s learning style. She emphasizes the three basic learning styles, auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. Auditory learners prefer listening to explanations over reading them and may like to study by reciting information aloud. Kinesthetic learners learn by doing and touching and Visual learners process new information by reading, looking at graphics, or watching a demonstration. Being aware of your child’s learning style can strengthen parent-child relationships and ultimately lead to educational success. “It’s very empowering for families to really understand each other and how they learn and how they think to work out

problems,” McKay says, "Students are expected to master math, reading, writing, speaking, spelling, memorization, comprehension and problem-solving however as adults, none of us can do this."

In conclusion, a sentiment that expresses the importance of recognizing the individual talents and strengths in a child states;

It has been written, Learning comes into the room when the child senses the beauty and/or usefulness of the fact or skill being taught *(excerpt from The Pedagogy of V. M. Hillyer).

Thanks for reading,

Angela Harris

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