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. •