Friday, February 3, 2017
But I'm afraid that a lot of the methods "out there" give teachers and parents a false sense of actually meeting a child's need. Many times there's a heavy reliance on technology and software programs. This could be an effective way to help many kids and refine practice to focus on an individual's specific needs. But I think this is often as easy way to say we're providing individualized learning without really doing the hard work of providing individualized learning.
I love technology. While I'm not a part of the technology generation (translation: I'm old), I do try to keep up with what's going on. I'm willing to explore different ways to do things and I do not want to always do things the same way. However, I'm a little leery of claims that I just pull up a program, sit down kids at it, and they will get just what they need to build skills and progress.
The struggle I have: not all kids respond well to this type of practice or teaching method. Just like not all kids respond to doing a page of addition problems or work well in small groups or learn well by drawing pictures of the problem. One method does not fit all. Some kids need the motivation or extra support of someone sitting with them as they work. Some need to manipulate objects or touch things to make an understanding connection. I struggle with any method (technology based or not) that is billed as the way for all kids to progress or excel.
Well, any method except play. Offering a variety of materials and encouraging children to explore a skill, concept, or idea in their own ways is the best way for individualized learning (at least in my opinion). And "play" can include paper and pencil to work multiple math problems or write a story as well as blocks or paint or costumes. In my recent reading, I kept stumbling across the concept that in play, kids will explore whatever they need to learn. If we can introduce ideas and concepts, kids will explore them.
As a teacher, I'm not a tailor. I'm not measuring each child and creating a suit that fits him perfectly, individually. I should be interacting with the child and determining if he needs a suit or a parka or t-shirt and shorts. He doesn't need a closet of perfect fitting suits. He needs a wardrobe that fits who he is and where he is going.
I know that sounds idealistic, maybe a little naive, and even a little dumb. But it definitely sounds individualized to me.