Instead of trying to treat kids the exact same way.
As standardized testing became the norm, an unfortunate byproduct was the loss of student individuality.
If we strive to normalize the way we teach and assess kids, we lose an inherent component that makes learning unique and interesting.
The fun is gone.
The same way no student enjoys endless test prep, so too, does no teacher.
What if there was a way to bring individualized learning back to every student, putting them in charge of what and how they learn and redefining the idea of "teacher"?
In today's educational climate, teachers are forced into rigorous testing schedules and then by their very nature, rigorous prepping schedules that shove content and real pedagogy to the side most unceremoniously.
Generally, educational reform moves slower than a turtle, but this testing epidemic actually sped through like the hare with little regard for loss in its wake.
For real education to make a resurgence and for more of the master teachers to come into the light, educational leaders, students, and parents need to take back the learning.
No test can show what any one individual is capable of, nothing that comprehensive or meaningful exists. Whether on paper or now online, test questions whittle down the very uniqueness of learning to 4 or 5 "right" or "wrong" answers and nowhere in life is that applicable.
So what would individualized learning look like? Imagine this...
Each student is taught a high level of metacognitive awareness that elucidates what it is they know and can do and what it is they need to work on. Through this understanding, students work with teachers to create programs that suit their specific needs.
Whether in a classroom of 15 or 35 students, teachers function as facilitators rather than sage. Students are taught the essential skills to vet learning resources and are then asked to develop synthesis projects that follow their own inquiry and develop skills they need to work on; mastery is the ultimate goal.
The facilitators in the room, specialize in helping students both learn the fundamental skills of existing in a digital world where resources are abundant and provide support and strategies for maximizing student potential harnessing that content.
Parents are also involved in the nurturing of their children during home time exposing their children to various different cultural and play alternatives to academic learning further enriching every child's life.
There is no more over-burdensome weight of testing during the school day or countless worksheets sent home at night. Only deep respect for the virtue of learning and time coupled with a newfound passion for words and an understanding of how things work.
Students are independent thinkers encouraged to take risks while teachers are observers and modelers of adult behaviors and critical innovators, curating and supporting for the students' benefits, not for the fear of their own evaluations.
Our greatest resource in humanity is the unique compilation of each human mind coupled with a deep longing for collaboration and community. Taking the essential ideas generated by one and compounding them together invites real change.
How can you cultivate this environment now? Please share
*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in March of 2015