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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Important, Only One Thing Is

Do you remember the scene in City Slickers when Curly (Jack Palance) holds his finger up and tells Mitch (Billy Crystal), "There's only one thing that matters."? It takes Mitch nearly the rest of the movie to discover that the "one thing" is different for everybody. The "one thing" is a personal one thing that makes one fulfilled, happy, or the employment of their personal gift, etc. You get the idea.

Wouldn't it be great if education was that simple? Find your one thing and do it. Educators, though, are asked to be teachers, parents, leaders, mentors, etc. to all children. It is a frustrating request for most.

I believe the focus in education should be on the learner. We have studied and researched and discovered that children have different learning styles and multiple intellegences. A Google search on "learning styles" results in over 58 million links. The first one was actually interesting. It has a test to determine your learning style.

But what about "Teaching Style?" It is not that it has not been researched. Google shows over 33 million results. After going through several of the pages, it became obvious that the purpose of knowing a teaching style is so the teacher could adjust their natural bent to accomodate the student that doesn't have a learning style consistent with the teaching style. [Indiana State University had an enjoyable read on teaching styles - I'm a natural demonstrating facilitator.]

It seems to me that it might be worth the effort to match the learning styles of students to the coordinating teaching styles of instructors. Could the ability to retain teachers be improved if we coupled them with students who appreciated the methods the teacher was naturally good at using? The argument, it seems, is that teachers model the teachers they had, therefore, we would have an over-abundance of lecture/worksheet teachers. I agree, we cannot continue with only that model in the 21st century classrooms. However, my experience has been that a good teacher is able to take the information from any delivery method, restructure it into the own style, and provide their students with the same information in a different format. They REMIX it if you will. Remixing...is that the sign of the effective 21st century teacher?

Imagine, a teacher able to teach to their own strengths with students whose learning style is matched. Teachers happy, students engaged, and schools thriving. I'm sure their is research to promote my thoughts...but then again I'm sure there is research that opposes this method too.


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