You’re all familiar with the typical high school students… We sit in class, usually half asleep, listening to our teacher ramble on about applied trigonometry. Though we’re in the classroom, we never seem to retain much of what’s taught. Why? Because the teacher, in most cases, is simply following the curriculum, and the curriculum doesn’t cater to student needs.
Not All Students Learn in the Same Way
According to KidSpot, “It is estimated that around 80% of all students learn visually”, making them suited to traditional teaching methods, but what about the other 20%? The 20% that won’t be able to follow their dreams when they don’t receive the qualifications required to get into the college of their choice… The 20% that will get lower scores in their end of semester tests and will need to take private lessons to catch up from tutors who, ironically, teach only in traditional ways…. This cycle simply repeats itself, and this 20% don’t learn in the way that they need to.
In a recent TED talk entitled ‘I’m Seventeen’, Kate Simonds highlights the need for more student voice and choice in the way we teach and learn stating: “We have no say over what we learn or how we learn it, yet we’re expected to absorb it all, take it all in, and be able to run the world some day. We’re expected to raise our hands to use the restroom, then three months later be ready to go to college or have a full-time job, support ourselves, and live on our own. It’s illogical.”
As a student, I feel very strongly about these problems in the classroom. I personally learn through movement, and practical work. I cannot sit still and listen to the teacher; I have to attempt the problem, as my brain works well through trial and error. Even when it comes to technology, I don’t read the instruction manual, or watch online tutorials, I take it out of the box, turn it on, and try to find my own way around it. Because of this, I tend to get better grades in practical subjects. In past exams, I would excel in all my practical work, but my theory based-subjects would let me down.
This is why we need to change the way we teach.
Changing The Way We Teach
Many teachers are already changing the way they teach with the help of technology that’s designed to meet the needs of their students. These teachers are using adaptive tools to suit every learner, figuring out what way a student learns best, and personalizing their activities and revision based on these findings. These teachers use techniques like blended, flipped and mobile Learning, and the students react very well to these. In a recent survey, 96% of teachers reported that technology is making a significant impact in their classroom. So why are many still teaching to the select group of visual learners in their classes? It’s time we started thinking about change in the right direction where the needs of every student are met… Stop teaching the curriculum, and start teaching the students!
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About the Author:
Jonny Kilfeather is a fourth year student who is passionate about education and wants to make sure that all student needs are catered for. He is currently studying for the Irish Leaving Certificate, and hopes that his grades will be a true reflection of his skills.