Topics in Early Childhood Education

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaching the Child, Not the Subject


We recently viewed a video by the creativity expert, Sir Ken Robinson. (http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/66) In this video he told the story of the choreographer of "Cats" and other Broadway shows. As a child, she could not hold still in class and her parents were told she had a learning problem. Fortunately, her mother and doctor discovered that she did not have a disability, she was a dancer. A dancer who could not sit still all day in a desk. She was sent to a performing arts school and became very successful in her field. My Introduction to Teaching students tell me stories about their visits to classrooms where the teacher is so structured that there is no room for children with diverse learning styles. In these cases, I think the teacher is only concerned with covering the material, not with turning the light switch of learning on for each child. We can use excuses like class size and high-stakes testing all we want. The bottom line is to be a good teacher is to provide support for learning basic skills through the learning style of the child. It is not impossible, it is just not 'assembly-line' work with dittos. Teachers need to work smarter, not harder. We teach children, not standards.

21 Comments:

At 2:37 PM, Blogger justin said...

I have a strong premonition that in elementary school I was "exceptional." I was perpetually taken out of class for additional inane educational games that amounted to my elementary school's "accelerated" program. I was at the same time on every teacher's short list of troublemakers, jokers, and loafers. I still remember most of those six years of my life with fear and angst. It was the decision of the Jordan School District to drop me into each of the mediocre bins for science, language, and math at the end of those six years. My intelligence was supposed commensurate with a hole digging destiny. Although I've dug a few holes in my lifetime I doubt any of my elementary teachers ever thought of me as anything beyond difficulty.


Justin Findlay
TL 4330-001

 
At 8:29 PM, Blogger Malonie Blue said...

That is a breath of fresh air in a dea of mediocrity in teaching!!

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger mmk. said...

I think that this is a very interesting issue right now. And it is hard when teachers think that the student can not learn and needs extra help when a lot of the time they are just not willing to put in the extra effort to help these students. And I liked the little saying at the end I think that it is very true!

 
At 7:42 PM, Blogger Brenda said...

I agree with your statement about teaching to the child, not the standards. Unfortunately, we are forced to design lesson plans around state standards. Yet, it's interesting that the terms "multiple intelligences" and "differentiated instruction" have been such buzz terms in the world of education, too. It seems like we can't find a happy medium...

 
At 8:22 PM, Blogger Mary Katherine Moreland said...

I think it is very important to get to know your students and adapt the lesson to the way that they learn. However, teachers are given certain criteria and requirements for what they teach and have a certain amount of areas where they have to test the students. This may result in the teacher not paying enough to the students' individual learning habits. Like Brenda said above, it is hard to find a happy medium. I do think, however, that every teacher should try his/her best to get to know their students and the way that each learn best and try to implement teaching strategies to meet their needs.

 
At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story truly touched me as well. I was so impressed with this example that I have been telling anyone who will listen to me. It's amazing the potential of children! We need to help them tap into their intelligences!
Kristine Thomson (5170)

 
At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know my little brother who is just in kindergarten has this problem with teachers... they tell us he is really energetic and has a hard time sitting still, but he is just such a performer also! I know last elementary school he was in they did not have this problem with him because they knew how to focus his energy or work with him, and he did better at learning things, but i guess every teacher is different.

- Mayralilia
TL 1010

 
At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that is a good point that teachers need to work smarter not harder. It helps the kids to learn and the teacher not to stress out.

Tiffany G.
TL 4330

 
At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Codi Holt said...

I remember hearing this story in class. We talked about the importance of teaching to children and not to the standards. We have to structure our teaching around the interests of the children, just because we have to teach a certain topic does not mean that it has to be taught one specific way. In that same instance just because we teach it one way to one child does not mean that the next child will learn the same way. The most important aspect of teaching is the children. Once you know them you can teach each of them efficiently no matter what you are tryin to teach. Thank you for all of your insight this semester I have learned so much!
Codi Holt
FCS 5170

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate this story and how important it is for us as future teachers and those who are currently teaching to remember that ever child is different and that all children have strengths.

Lori Peterson
FCS 5170

 
At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Ronak Jain said...

Yes, that must be very clearly understood by the teachers, who are teaching the child that teaching is conducted for the child and not for the subject.

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger amit said...

You have hit upon a very fundamental issue. Even within a group of homogeneous kids, different kids may learn in different ways. Some may listen better, and some may be visual learners, and many will learn by doing. I have put together a site NeoK12.com with educational science videos, which can be a tool to help kids learn in a better way.

 
At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Kathy said...

The state I teach three year olds in has recently required us to link our lesson plans to new standards for young children. This has been a frustrating process but you have reminded me what is important. Thank you!

 
At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Mandee said...

I love your last statement! It is our job to teach children and not standards. If we were meant to teach standards all the time, there would not be organizations such as the NAEYC. More teachers need to do what they feel instead of what they are told. Be the speaker not the listener!

 
At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a teacher i agree that students should be the focus of the class not the subject!!

 
At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Rhonda said...

Being a Montessori teacher I am blessed to be able to teach each child, in the style in which he learns best. All of the work in our classrooms are designed and used in ways in which the state standards are meet. Teaching the standards is not difficult in an environment designed to teach the individual learner.

 
At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Director in Woodinville said...

I do believe the statement "We need to prepare the elementary schools for our students, not the students for elementary school" is the real problem. As ECE teachers we are stuck getting children ready for Kindergarten. We need to continue to focus on following the children's lead, (if they are interested they will learn), and let them learn out of the box so we have creative, problem solving thinkers!

 
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At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Woodiville Preschool said...

I believe that you need to teach to the child. Every one of them is unique.

 
At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Family Man said...

I agree with you. I think this is creative way for future study. Now, I try to mix it when I teach my lovely kids.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger William Walker said...

Thanks for the great blog! I really like what you have said about school.

William | http://www.kidscountry.net

 

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