by M. Tamar Hueraman
Technician in Early Childhood and First Stage of Elementary Education | Chile
Every child is a unique human being God endowed each one with special abilities and gifts. Children have various ways of expressing their emotions, they all have different questions, and each one learns differently. Teachers and parents must take this into account when teaching, in order to achieve positive results.
There are eight teaching principles in education, but in this article we will focus on only one-uniqueness. The Curricular Bases of Kindergarten (preschool) Education 2078, for Chile, states this: “Every child, regardless of his or her stage of life and level of development, is a unique being with characteristics, needs, interests, and strengths that must be recognized and effectively considered in every learning situation. This diversity implies, among other things, that every child learns in different ways that are unique to him or her.”
Because all children are special, there is much diversity within a classroom or group. Usually, however, in secular education, beginning in the first grade, the standard procedure consists of having the teacher share knowledge with students who simply sit and listen. This traditional method limits the development of creativity and originality, impacting negatively the development of each student’s skills.
In typical classrooms, traditional education is frequently found to be ineffective. Teachers find it difficult to get the attention of all their students because not all children learn in the same way. Some students are kinesthetic-that is, they learn more through experimentation and movement. Others are visual; they learn much better when the material is presented visually. Still others are auditory, which means they assimilate information much better through hearing I listening. For them, music and giving
speeches can be made part of the curriculum. It is import ant for teachers and parents to study their children and to identify how each one learns. Once we have this knowledge, we can introduce activities that awaken the attention of most of the children.
In one of my own high school classes, we students were asked to recount negative and positive experiences with teachers throughout our school years. I was struck by the fact that most of my classmates, and me too, had had more negative experiences than positive ones. We mentioned teachers who were not patient enough to answer our questions. They would not take the time to observe our varying capabilities and different ways of learning. One of my classmates related how bad she felt in school because of always being so distractible and restless. Be cause of that, she was always criticized and even teased by her teachers. We all concluded that it would have been better if this young woman’s teachers had taken the time to find different strategies to keep her attention.
We, as Christian teachers and parents, must be careful not to make such mistakes, for they can cause long-term problems of low self-esteem and insecurity in children. Let us remember that some children, because of negative experiences in their childhood, are afraid to ask questions. Let us make it clear to them that no question they present is out of place. Whenever they have questions, we want to help these children find answers.
“Dealing with human minds is the most delicate work ever entrusted to mortals, and teachers need constantly the help of the Spirit of God, that they may do their work aright. Among the [children and] youth attending school will be found great diversity of character and education.”-Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 264.
The British educator Ken Robinson, one of the most well known educational thinkers, critiques traditional schooling. He argues that “children are born with qualities that are often buried by the education system.” Often, teachers in traditional schools do not take the time to envision what education really is and thus to become creative in their teaching strategies so that children can develop their talents. We too, as Christian teachers and parents, should determine to help enhance the gifts, characteristics, and abilities that God gave to each of our children, although it may be a difficult task because of the world we live in.
We have the example of the Teacher of teachers, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who during His life on this earth used nature as a textbook to get the attention of, then to teach, His followers. This should be a great lesson and example for us. When we have the opportunity to work with a group of children, and it is possible to take them into the woods or into parks, let us try to do so. From nature we can draw beautiful lessons, and we will get the attention of the great majority of the children, since many of them like to explore.
Every time we teach, we should ask God in prayer tog rant us acuity and tact to deal with each personality. May we positively influence our students to follow God and enhance their abilities for His work.
May the Lord help each one of us in this ministry. •