What a worrisome week…
It’s been an interesting, and challenging week for people who think and feel, what with the DC and Moscow connection becoming clearer, and scarier. I think of the scene in the movie Airport, where Lloyd Bridges states “What a day to give up drinking”. What a week for educators, struggling with low budgets, lack of support, and feedback from so many people who do not understand, or have a clue about education, especially the hard work that goes into learning, planning and presenting. So many people feel that teaching and education is like making widgets or bean counting- one size fits all, and anybody could do it. I find this particularly true with business people, always concerned with the bottom line. This is rightly so- after all, they are in business. But learning and education does not always fit that model. In fact, it usually does not. There are those who feel that the success that they have achieved in their particular endeavor or field will automatically make them experts on education, learning and teaching. Sometimes this happens, mostly it does not (without learning how to teach). Many of these same people view students from box-colored lenses, and that all students will learn the same way. Sometimes they throw around the term “out of the box”, but in reality, they are still in a box of teaching all students in the same way, expecting all students to understand in the same way. This, of course is to benefit the teacher, and make it easier for them, but it usually does not translate to the students understanding of the material. I am always surprised that there are those who think that everyone learns the same way. Yet these same people accept that some people enjoy golfing, some enjoy tennis, and some enjoy biking. Or how different people enjoy different styles of music, or food, or anything, yet continue to be under the impression that we all have interests in the same subjects and all learn the same way.
Sorry to break the news to those people who think that way, hut it’s not the case. In 1983, Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard described how different people have different ways of natural learning and thinking. Some learn numbers, some colors, some sounds and so on. This translates into some students think in terms of math, others in terms of music or art or any of the other types of intelligence (for more details, check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences). One type of intelligence does not necessarily preclude that a student will only learn one way, but often, one type is the strongest.
This sure explains why I did better in literature than in math, or that I am a very visual thinker, hence my passion for painting (and graphic novels). This also explains what happens in classrooms and training centers at all levels. Practically, this means that to be really effective, a teacher needs a lot of tools in their pedagogical toolboxes, so that they can reach out to as many of the different learners as they can. Teachers use different methods such as lectures, demonstrations, collaborative learning, etc. and different learning media, such as books, boards, cameras, music, movies, and yes, graphic novels and comics too. Learning how to do all of this does come naturally to a few, but most need to learn how to do it, just like a businessperson needs to learn about business, or a carpenter needs to learn how to make things. These methods (and tools) work in education as well as in corporate training, as educators and trainers need to be able to identify the types of learners, the types of content, and then match them to the actual learners.
Doing this helps to promote knowledge and understanding, as well as critical thinking. Call me a crazy optimist, but these are some of the important skills that can help prevent, or at least stymie the kinds of unsavory connections that are happening now. Maybe not, but I still prefer to be a hopeful optimist, despite the news.