Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Square Peg, Round Hole

learning styles, modern education system



When my children were young, we had two different shape learning toys.

One had three different shapes and holes: round, square, rectangle. Of course, each shape fit best into the appropriate hole, but sometimes, with effort, a square or rectangle could be forced into the round hole, or vice versa.

The other toy had eighteen holes and each shape would only fit in the prescribed hole. No amount of forcing would allow the shape to go into the incorrect hole.

This is basically how the public education system works; or almost any type of classroom setting with multiple students.
There is one prescribed way for students to succeed. One type of student excels with this method, some students can be forced to succeed, and some students will never succeed. As with the eighteen shape toy, a star shaped peg will never fit into a round hole.

The current education system is trying to force all pegs into the round hole. If a student doesn't succeed, the answer seems to be to devise another test, change the curriculum, or make sure every school has the same teaching standards. This does not address different learning styles, interests, or individual needs.

It has been my experience in a classroom setting that the class only moves as fast as the 'average' student. This will leave some students bored with the pace and some students struggling. Therefore, none of the students are really able to work to their best ability.

However, with home education, the scenario is different. Parents are able to discern their child's learning style and subject strengths. Students are able to move ahead in subjects they enjoy and understand; they are allowed to take more time with subjects that are more difficult for them or they are not ready for yet.

Discern your child's learning style and try to teach to it.
Many books are available to help you do this.

There are three basic learning styles:  auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.  
The kinesthetic usually get left out of the current teaching styles in most classrooms.

For example, one of my children is a predominantly kinesthetic learner.  She was much more inclined to color the pictures in the workbook rather than filling in the blanks. She is a hands-on, creative type person.

Math manipulatives were important for her as well as real life experiences like cooking and animal care.  For high school Anatomy I purchased an anatomy coloring book.  In general, real life experiences were more helpful for her, but in subjects that were more difficult to make kinesthetic she was mature enough to slog through them and do what was required to finish.

You can take a quick quiz at this website, or this how to learn quiz, or this questionnaire to discover your learning style.

Don't try to shove your 'star shaped' child into a hexagon shaped 'learning hole'.  Don’t assume that your child learns the same way you learn.  You may need to adapt your teaching style to fit their learning style.

What adjustments do you make (or need to make) to help your child learn?

This post was shared at Cornerstone Confessions Titus2 Tuesdays. 
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