Isn’t it Time to Rethink how we Educate our Children?

Isn't it Time to Rethink how we Educate our Children?

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There is no getting around it our education system is old fashioned with its standardized tests and indoor teaching. School has become an ancient institution that is no longer relevant in today’s modern world.

The world is progressing at a phenomenal rate, even in my short life I have seen inventions such as the mobile phone become mainstream, the internet take over the world and virtual reality become a thing. When I was a child I hadn’t even heard of the internet, in fact it wasn’t until I was 16 that we had internet in our home.

Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist, created a theory called Multiple Intelligences. He believed that every person has a different learning style. He proposed that there are 8 different intelligences:

  • Linguistic intelligence (word smart)
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence (number/reasoning smart)
  • Spatial intelligence (picture smart)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (body smart)
  • Musical intelligence (music smart)
  • Interpersonal intelligence (people smart)
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (self smart)
  • Naturalist intelligence (nature smart)

Gardner believes that our schools only focus on two of these intelligences; linguistic and logical mathematical which makes sense when you think about how a school is set up and the formulas they use to measure intelligence, i.e. standardized tests.

‘A standardized test is any form of test that (1) requires all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions from common bank of questions, in the same way, and that (2) is scored in a “standard” or consistent manner, which makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individual students or groups of students.’

Now you tell me how can such a test possibly determine how intelligent someone who learns kinesthetically is? Fun fact: the standardized test was developed by a man named Frederick J Kelly in 1914! How can a test that was created over 100 years ago possibly be relevant in today’s modern world?

Old Classroom

This really is a case of one size does not fit all! Picture if you will a classroom with 30 students in it, 10 of which learn kinesthetically, 5 learn through visual aids, 10 learn through auditory aids and the remaining 5 learn through reading. How can that one teacher possibly teach the same thing to all of those students using only one teaching method. Teachers often get wrongfully blamed when a child is ‘underperforming’ but it’s not the teacher’s fault, it’s the fault of the old fashioned system that they are stuck in.

modern classroom

No Two Children are the Same

Every parent that has two or more children will tell you that no two children are exactly the same so why do we still expect them to learn in the same way?

If I take my two children for example, Henry is your archetypal student. He learns through reading and really thrives in a traditional classroom environment. He approaches every situation with logic and reason.

Lowenna on the other hands learns through doing. The one place she really thrived was forest school where she was out in the fresh air connecting with nature. She lives her life on the edge, constanting pushing boundaries and rejecting all types of conformity.

I have already noticed that Lowenna doesn’t believe herself to be as ‘intelligent’ as Henry. She is basing this theory purely on what society deems as intelligence. All she sees is her brother excelling at maths and reading books way beyond his supposed capabilities therefore he must be really smart. What she doesn’t see is her strengths and that is simply because they are not recognised by our education system.

Judging a Fish

Einstein himself was 4 years old before he learnt to speak and aged 7 before he could read. One of my favourite quotes from him is…

judging a fish

Is There an Answer?

I personally believe that there is. I think that before every student starts school they should take a test, now I know I said tests are not the answer but bear with me on this one. This would not be your average test and there are no right or wrong answers, it is simple a test to determine your learning style.

“Analysing intelligence is purely subjective”

If every child took this test before starting school they could then be put into groups with other children that learn the same way. To really make this work you’d then need a teacher that also learns through the same style, that way they’d fully appreciate and understand how the children in their class are learning. Imagine how great it would be to be in a classroom where everyone was on your wavelength. Now that is an environment to thrive in!

“If we live in a world where we can customise everything from our cars to our social media pages surely it’s time to start customising our schools”

Educate our children


*Image Credits: Steve Brewer JJ Losier*

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4 thoughts on “Isn’t it Time to Rethink how we Educate our Children?”

  1. Gina, have you come across Steiner education? I found this to be closer to the ideal as they do understand some of the different learning styles. So for example, when learning letters, children would draw them as a piece of art, rather than writing lines of letters. Plus they would take shoes and socks off and hop onto letters that were carved into wood, so they can feel them through their feet. Likewise they understand the ‘four temperaments’ such as sanguine, melancholic etc. and bring them into the learning model. Your daughter sounds just like mine 🙂

    1. Sadly I have to say that my experience of Steiner fell far short of this ideal. They have a model for understanding child development that does include different temperments and promotes early years learning through activity and community and spirit, which are all beneficial. They postpone classroom learning till age 7, which takes pressure off in early years and spend more time in nature, which is beautiful. However, the model is limited, is definitely stuck in the past, and is less flexible when it encounters children who don’t fit into it. eg. a 5 year old girl who is keen to read, is held back from doing this at Steiner; a 7 year old who is not yet ready to sit in a classroom and look at a blackboard, has a diagnoses of adhd and Steiner school get out of this by saying they dont have the resources to support this, so the child has to leave. (even though noone else diagnoses the child with adhd…they simply are not as suited or yet ready to sitting , being told what to do through long lessons, looking at a blackboard). A child who questions authority at age 8, is ‘not a steiner child’, cos in the steiner model this doesn’t happen till 11. Steiner teachers can be more blinkered and rigid in their approach than mainstream, when things don’t fit their belief system, a system that is highly outdated. Worth adding that I believe Rudolf Steiner himself, would have updated it loads, just his followers are not doing this adequately.

  2. Hi Gina, I love this post. I have 3 children and the sole reason we are not homeschooling is because they are enjoying school. They are all academic so fit the model of school. However even though they are “winning” in the system, I still have issues that make my toes curl. Examples such as “so n so didn’t finish their challenges so missed their play”. When I asked my son if he could help the child finish their work he said “oh no Mummy, it’s called a challenge because you have to complete it alone”. Where’s the sense of community, service, team building? In fact, at parents evening, when I asked if there was an opportunity for my son to work with children of mixed abilities, the teacher looked at me like I had suddenly grown an extra head! She asked after my younger son (who is borderline academically gifted) and joked saying “oo another one to boost my stats”. To me this just indicates the pressure she is under as a year 2 teacher. This is before you look at the socialisation of schools and the fact that the institution is geared to teach the few, yet often it’s the negative behaviour of the rest (due to boredom, frustration etc) that becomes the lowest common denominator. I like your solution to the previous, but highly doubt the government will retail the system in this way during my lifetime.

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