In School Together, But Not Learning at the Same Rate
It’s a truism that everyone learns at different rates. This is because we have different interests, and we live in very diverse environments. However, many American school curricula and many of the practices in our schools are clearly homogenizing this diversity.
Since there are students of various family and racial backgrounds and social interests, if the approach is homogeneous, there are children who will remain behind and others who will get bored (in the best case). Obviously, if we continue to teach with this approach, there will be many students for whom continuing with the marked pace is impossible and other students to whom that pace may not be sufficient for them.
The way out
The consequences of this problem on students are why we will have to address them and, once and for all, take decisive steps regarding what our students should learn. And when I say learn, I mean to do it calmly but with enough depth; so that students can assimilate, sustain and make use of the significant classroom knowledge they get. This ensures that whatever they learn is not temporal knowledge that has to be vomited in an exam with the sole purpose of passing it and hence, having the feeling that everything is going fine.
The school curricula are like battlefields that reflect other struggles: corporate, political, economic, religious, identity, cultural, etc. Taking this into account, it is clear that agreeing on what should be in the curriculum and what should not be in it will not be a simple task. However, I insist it’s something we will have to do anyways – but in a meticulous manner.
Distinguishing between basic essentials and desirable basics
A possible way out is to establish a distinction between the basic essentials and the desirable basics in our curricula. The basic essentials are the items that, if not carried out at the end of basic education, will negatively affect the personal and social development of the students.
The desirable basics, however, refer to learning that (even though, it can contribute significantly to the personal and social development of students) does not affect students negatively if they don’t have them. Students can easily acquire such knowledge at the end of compulsory education.
It is clear that this approach will also generate controversy and lack of consensus, but maybe, it could be a starting point. Our school setting must change and become the place where our children want to go because of the value.
Our schools must be where each child learns calmly at his own pace. Teachers have to encourage and motivate students without labeling them, understanding that not all of us learn at the same pace nor do we all have the same environmental conditions. Schools should become the meeting point where students can learn together regardless of age, racial, social or economic differences.
We don’t learn at the same rate and it’s not only because of our learning styles but even more because of the diversity of interests and needs. Teachers have to teach their students fewer things and make sure they teach in details.