Teach the Child – Part 1

So today I’m going to share the first part of a three part post that will revolve around the ideas of inclusion, student agency, and what I’m going to call empathy based learning. I have been fortunate enough over the past several weeks to have gone through some incredible professional learning sessions, which included both consultants and conferences, and it all has me thinking critically about what I believe to be the essential elements of education as we move “school” forward in today’s complicated and rapidly changing world.

I want to say that in many cases, in my opinion anyway, we have our approach to school and education absolutely backwards…flipped the wrong way around. We continue to focus on the wrong things as we try and prepare our kids for their future and for their NOW. Many schools (maybe the majority of schools, including international schools) are still heavily reliant on content, and subjects, and classroom silos that are very much teacher directed, and they are very, very slow to change. As a global community, we are missing so many opportunities to educate and empower our kids to be great people…not great students…but great people, great human beings who bring joy and acceptance and kindness and service and love and individual passions to life for our world.

Rolling our kids through the tired industrial model and approach to school, which most of us continue to employ in one way or another, just isn’t good enough anymore, and it certainly isn’t what our kids need from us as educators…they need more, and they need different, and they need change. They need and deserve opportunities to lead their own learning journey, to find their passions and sparks, and to move at their own pace. They need to be celebrated for their individuality, their uniqueness, their differences, and they need to know that student success isn’t some cookie-cutter formula that is represented by grades and tests and how much they know about a certain topic that has no personal and relevant meaning to them whatsoever…students need to have a voice, and we need to listen.

Kids need to be able to create, and to innovate, and to question, and they need to understand that “school” doesn’t have to be the same for everyone…it can be a place where they can to work together, and alone, to solve problems, real-world problems that will affect change for their local and global community…a place where their education is personalized and tailored to their interests and strengths and passions and how they best learn…a place where success is measured by effort and failing forward and by the questions that they ask…a  place where kids of all abilities (physical and intellectual), and genders, and races, and religions, and all else are taught to see people as inherently good, and able to contribute in profound ways just by being who they are.

Essentially, we need to teach the individual child, not the content. We need to teach the individual child, not the subject. We need to teach not just with a focus on growing their minds, but with a razor-sharp focus on growing their hearts. Let’s all start there and see where it goes…it’s no secret that our world needs this as much as our kids these days. So, there you have it…next week I’m going to talk specifically about school inclusion, on the heels of an amazing NFI conference that we hosted just last week. Inclusion by the way, is a perfect place to start the journey toward the change that I’m talking about. Oh and just so you know, students with learning differences will go on to rule the world…you heard it here first. It’s time to leverage what they can bring to our school…it only takes one child to completely change a culture and community for the better. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week…

If a child is off task, perhaps the problem is not the child, but the task

-Alfie Kohn


Inspiring Videos –

Dear Teacher

Teach Inspiration

More Alike Than Different

The Present

Student Voice


Related Articles on Inclusion and Learning Differences –

Together We Learn Better

5 Benefits of an Inclusive Classroom

The Value of Inclusive Education

The Principles of Inclusion

Moving Toward Inclusion

What are Classroom Like?

7 Must Have App and Tools

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