Rethinking Our School Systems
A different way to learn is what the kids are calling for…all of them are talking about how our one size fits all delivery system – which mandates that everyone learn the same thing at the same time, no matter what their individual needs- has failed them.
The biggest mistake of past centuries in teaching has been to treat all children as if they were variants of the same individual, and thus to feel justified in teaching them the same subjects in the same way.
As schools are become increasingly diverse, their capacity to provide a meaningful and empowering education for all individuals is directly related to our willingness to invest the time, resources, and guidance needed for society. We must help them move towards teaching that meets individuals at their points of readiness, interest, and learning profile.
As very well said by the student of 7th grade “I like this class because there’s something different going on all the time. My other classes are like Dal – roti for lunch, every single day. This class is like my teacher really knows how to cook. It’s like; she runs a great restaurant with a big menu.”
It is time that Educators and School Heads, redefine education and prepare our children to face the ever changing and challenging real world – particularly so for a world 15 years from today. Students today have to ‘Be the Change’, Be the leaders’ for an entirely different world of tomorrow. It means a new way of understanding the concept of “knowledge”. A new way of designing and delivering the curriculum is required.
Research through Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences tells us that every human being has a learning style and every human being has strengths. It’s as individual as signature. Albert Einstein was a daydreamer. His teachers in Germany told him he would never amount to anything, that his questions destroyed class discipline that he would be better off out of school. Yet he went on to become one of the greatest scientists in world history.
Winston Churchill did poorly at schoolwork. He talked with a stutter. Yet he became one of the greatest leaders and orators of the 20th century. Thomas Alva Edison was beaten at school with a heavy leather strap because his teacher considered him “addled” for asking so many questions. He was chastised so much that his mother took him out of school after only three months’ formal education. He went on to become probably the most prolific inventor of all time.
Einstein, Churchill and Edison had learning styles that were not suited to their school styles. And that same mismatch continues today for millions of others. It is possibly the biggest single cause of school failure.
Every person reading this page has a different lifestyle and a different work style. Successful businesses depend on their ability to cater to those different lifestyles. And human-resource consultants spend their lives matching work style talents to jobs. Yet many of our schools operate as if each person is identical. Even worse: most operate with an evaluation or testing system that rewards only a limited number of abilities. And those rewards early in life often separate the allegedly gifted and intelligent from those who are claimed to be less intelligent and underachievers.
At Victorious Kidss Educares, knowledge is not the power, utilizing the knowledge is the power. Yesterday, doing our school days & time, it was the knowledge, which was the power. Knowing about the electricity is not the power, but utilizing this knowledge into real life is the power. The curriculum is concept based and not content-based. There is tremendous amount of content too, more than six times than any other school, and yet it is like playing cricket. Everyone enjoys playing cricket; everyone enjoys participating in the content off the cut equipment, to understanding the concept. Interdisciplinary, integrated and project-based, focusing on inculcating skills like Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Agility and Adaptability, Initiative and Entrepreneurial skills, Effective Oral and Written Communication, nurturing their Curiosity and Imagination. You will recognize these children if you meet them anywhere in the city – they stand out, whether in a shopping mall, a party, a play field.
New Ways of Thinking About School
It is important to sketch out a few recent, pivotal insights about teaching and learning. Differentiated instruction is first and foremost good instruction. Many current understandings about learning provide strong support for class-rooms that recognize, honour, and cultivate individuality.
There are three principles of effective teaching and learning that educators have not always known or clearly supported.
Intelligence is Variable We can draw at least three important conclusions from the study of intelligence over the past half century. First, intelligence is multifaceted, not a single thing. Howard Gardner Harvard Professor of Education – (1991, 1993, and 1997) suggests that humans have eight intelligences: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic. Robert Sternberg (1985, 1988, and 1997) suggests three kinds of intelligence: analytical, practical and creative. Before them, other researchers, such as Thorndike, Thurstone, and Guilford (Horowitz & O’Brien, 1985), identified varied types of intelligence. While the names of intelligence vary, educators, psychologists, and researchers have drawn two significant, consistent conclusions:
- We think, learn and create in different ways.
- Development of our potential is affected by the match between what we learn and how we learn with our particular intelligences.
A second important conclusion about intelligence is that that it is fluid, not fixed. In other words, providing children with rich learning experiences can amplify their intelligence, and denying them such richness of experience can diminish their intelligence (Caine & Caine, 1991)
A third understanding stems from the burgeoning field of brain research (Caine & Caine, 1991; Sylwester, 1995). Neurons grow and develop when they are used actively; they atrophy when they are not used. Vigorous learning changes the psychology of the brain.
These theories suggest several clear implications for educators. For example, teachers must be effective in developing many types of intelligence, not just one. Also, students who come to school lacking rich learning experiences can make up lost ground if they find rich experiences in their class-rooms. All students must continue vigorous, new learning, or they risk losing brain power.
The Brain Hungers for Meaning
Thanks to progress with imaging technology in the field of medicine, we can now look inside the human brain and see how it functions. Such observations have rapidly expanded the understanding of teaching and learning. We now know important details about what works best for the brain in learning (Caine & Caine, 1991, 1994, 1997; Jensen, 1998; Kalbfleisch, 1997; Sylwester, 1995).
The brain seeks meaningful patterns and resists meaninglessness. Though the brain retains isolated or different bits of information, it is much more efficient at retaining information that is “chunked.” Chunked information is organized around categories and ideas that increase the information’s meaningfulness. The brain constantly seeks to connect parts to wholes, and individuals learn by connecting something new to something they already understand.
The brain learns best when it can come to understand by making its own sense out of information rather than when information is imposed on it. The brain doesn’t respond much to things that carry only a surface meaning. It responds far more effectively and efficiently to something that carries deep and personal meaning, something that is life shaping, relevant, important or taps into emotions.
These and many other understandings tell us much about the individuality or learners and about the nature of effective curriculum and instructions. Brain research tells us that each learner’s brain is unique, and educators must provide many opportunities for varied learners to make sense of ideas and information. The research tells us that when we set out to have students connect the novel to the familiar, what is novel to one child already may be familiar to another and vice versa.
Brain research tells us that curriculum must cultivate meaning making. It should be organized around categories, concepts, and governing principles. A meaningful curriculum is characterized by high interest and high relevance, and it taps into learner’s feelings and experiences. If we want students to retain, understand, and use ideas, information and skills, we must give them ample opportunity to make sense of, or “own,” them through involvement in complex learning situations.
Brain research also makes clear that if learning is a process of connecting the unfamiliar to the familiar, teachers must create abundant opportunities for students to link the new with the old. First, teachers must identify the essential concepts, principles, and skills of their subjects. Then they must become experts about their students’ learning needs. Then they must use this information about learning needs to provide differentiated opportunities for students to construct understanding by connecting what they know with the essentials they are trying to learn.
The teachers are the back bones and are angel like. As one of the Victorious Kidss teacher pointed out, “If we want our students to change in the future, we as the teachers have to be that change now. Teachers here are ‘guide on the side and not sage on the stage’. Teachers are co-learners who share the learning journey with the students.
The education here is a refreshing journey from knowledge to wisdom. Parents are an essential part of the learning community, they are continuously trained to create conducive environment at home through “Parental Workshops”. It helps to keep the parents abreast with the school philosophy and to enhance their parenting skills. The environment of the school is so stimulating that most parents and all children love to come to school even on Sunday.
Victorious Kidss is a place where people change, where students, teachers and parents realize their own potential, their abilities and life changes for the better. They all become a better human being.This is what we exactly need to aim at our school creating a challenging environment which is called “The Differentiated Classroom”. The classroom is a place where we give the better part of our lifetime trying to make a difference. The strategies and varieties of teaching are such that no two days are alike at Victorious Kidss Educares.
In differentiated classroom, teachers accept and build upon the foundation that ‘each learner differs from the other in important ways’. Teachers ensure that a student competes against himself as he grows and develops more than he competes against other students. The teachers provide specific ways for each individual to learn as deeply as possible and as quickly as possible, without assuming that one student’s road map for learning, are identical to anyone else’s. They also work to ensure that each student consistently experiences the reality that success is likely to follow hard work.
Differentiated classrooms feel right to students who learn in different ways and at different rates and who bring to school different talents and interests.
Children seem to accept a world in which we are not alike. They search for the sense of triumph that comes when they are respected, valued, appreciated for their effort, nurtured and even cajoled into accomplishing things they believed were ‘beyond their grasp’. We at V.K.E. only aim to advance every child to full capacity and show them “How to unlock the treasure from and within every child”.
Today, different children come to school and stay in school, bringing with them a greater range of backgrounds. They are at once enriched and impoverished by their environments. Further, there is a chasm between children who have benefited from rich childhood experiences and those who haven’t had the same opportunities.
The Struggle for Equity and Excellence
Many of today’s students come from homes where support and encouragement are in short supply. These children have immense learning potential, but they arrive at school with that potential weighted down by a lack of experience, support, models, and plans that, if present, would make education a fundamental expectation of life. On the other hand, many other learners come to school with skills and knowledge months or years ahead of where their learning is “expected” to be according to the standard curriculum.
Schools must belong to all of these children. Educators often speak of equity as an issue with children of the former group and excellence as an issue for the latter. In truth, equity and excellence must be at the top of the agenda for all children.
We cannot achieve equity for children who come to school at risk of falling behind in learning unless we ensure that these learners enter classrooms where teachers are ready to help build the sorts of experiences and expectations that the world outside the classroom may have been unable to build for the child. We cannot achieve excellence for children at risk of school failure without emphatically, systematically, vigorously, and effectively seeing to the development of their full potential. We must dream big dreams with them and be persistent partners in helping them soar toward those dreams. Both equity and excellence must be a part of our road map for these students.
Similarly, children who come to school advanced beyond grade expectations in one or more areas also require equity of opportunity to grow from their points of entry, with teachers doggedly determined to ensure that their potential does not languish. These children, too, need teachers who commend, and command, excellence- teachers who help them dream big, who cause them to experience, accept, and embrace personal challenge. Both equity and excellence must be a part of our road map for these students as well.
Every child is entitled to the promise of a teacher’s enthusiasm, time, and energy. All children entitled to teachers who will do everything in their power to help them realize their potential every day.
50 Years from today, it would not be important what kind of car you drove, how many houses you have or what kind of clothes you wore. It would but bring about brilliance of peace, happiness and success in your life, if you take your time out and invest with your time and well guided money, to make one child live better, because you have lived.