We say that every snowflake is unique. We also say that every person is unique. We need to start walking our talk.
Every person is born to a unique set of circumstances, time, place, family, natural affinities, intrinsic motivations, attraction to objects, activities and people in our environments.
Fifty factors in different combinations would give us a figure of 50! or 3.04140932 × 1064.
The permutations and combinations of all the factors that create a human being may reach to the infinite.
Every person is unique and comes with a personal set of developmental needs and requests to meet those needs.
Brain researchers spent decades looking to find where certain information resides in the brain. Their conclusion is that the more they learn about the brain, the less they know. Twenty years ago language skills were believed to be a function that took place in the brain’s left hemisphere. Functional MRI’s show that language “lights” up areas all over the brain, and it is different for every person. Similar in cases, but different overall. Brain development and learning are unique to each person. Dreams and desires are also individualistic.
How do we design an educational system that honors the singularity of every individual?
We have to start with respect. Respect of each child’s efforts to grow into a person like no other person.
We need to always remember that parents are our children’s first and best teachers and that schools exist to be in partnership with families.
Our children are not stupid or lazy. Human beings are natural-born learners and experimenters.
Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist, in her book, My Stroke of Insight, talks about the following 12 therapeutic techniques that she needed in order to learn again after she suffered a stroke that affected her cognitive abilities. For wounded, substitute “young and inexperienced,” and you’ll see our children need these same techniques. Perhaps we all might benefit from this type of understanding and teaching.
12 therapeutic techniques
1. I am not stupid. I am wounded. Please respect me.
2. Repeat yourself. Assume I know nothing and start from the beginning, over and over.
3. Be patient with me the 20th time you teach me something as you were the first.
4. Approach me with an open heart, and slow your energy down. Take your time.
5. Do not assess my cognitive ability by how fast I can think.
6. Cheer me on. Expect me to recover completely, even if it takes 20 years.
7. Break all actions down into smaller steps of action.
8. Look for what obstacles prevent me from succeeding on a task.
9. Clarify for me what the next level or step is, so I know what I am working toward.
10. Remember that I have to be proficient at one level of function before I can move onto the next level.
11. Focus on what I can do, rather than bemoan what I cannot do.
12. Celebrate all of my little successes. They inspire me.
The brain is the world’s most powerful biological machine. We are born with a wonderful gift. The problem is it doesn’t come with an operation manual.
Our educational challenge becomes how to unlock human potential, develop this potential, and set this potential free to be of help to each person, which will in effect, help us all in making this world a better place.