There is a quote that resonates deeply with those of us who care about education:
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
~ Ignacio Estrada
It sounds so simple, really.
And yet if we look closely at our classrooms, we will see that this is just not always happening. There continue to be teachers who expect all of their students to move at the same pace, teachers who rarely vary their teaching style and teachers who continue to struggle to meet the needs of diverse learners.
Our Judaism echoes Estrada’s quote: “Teach a child according to his/her own way,” Proverbs 22:6.
So how do we do it? In writing What’s Your Learning Style? I explored the value of understanding one’s own preferred modality of learning as well as those of our students. Doing so can be a first step in transforming a classroom into a place where every child flourishes.
Nonetheless, teachers in supplemental schools are often more likely to struggle with the concept of meeting each individual student’s needs. Unlike those teachers who see their students daily for an hour or more, teachers in synagogue schools are typically pressed to transmit meaningful content in less than two hours a week.
Wouldn’t having limited contact hours with your students be MORE of an argument in favor of teaching to a student’s preferred modality? One would think that this could help to ensure that the content “stuck” despite a minimal amount of teaching time. And yet, this is not the case.
Where do we go from here?