The real issue at hand today is that the educational system continues to use the one size fits all for their approach to learning. What happens when you are someone that has anxiety attacks when you take any type of test? I have memories of friends that had to give presentations for both entry-level classes to defending their doctoral dissertation that would break out in hives because of their nervous tension. The difficult reality today is that a person who is very qualified for a position can be passed over because they don’t fit into the one-size fits all categories.
One of the determining factors in someone being able to succeed in life is their ability to read and write! Yes, this is rather old fashion but the truth is that communication skills determine where you can go in life! I have a few friends who are functional illiterates that are not capable of filling out an online application for neither work nor pass a written driving exam to get their license. The sad fact is that these are all great people both teens, adult and seniors. What has to happen for our approach to learning to shift from the standardized model to a more multi-faceted model that gives more opportunities for individuals who struggle with being able to sit still for more than fifteen minutes at a time or needs someone to read the test to them to better understand it?
It’s a fascinating study to see that most of the movers and shakers in the scientific arena would have failed miserably if they had stayed in the typical college or grad school setting. Imagine what would have happened if the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburgs of the world had been forced to stay in school, get their degrees and be ‘beaten up’ for thinking outside the box? I wouldn’t be using my 12-inch MacBook to write this post.
One of the more fascinating professors I had in grad school purposely taught outside the box. His goal wasn’t to strive for a test grade but for a working understanding of philosophy and religious studies. He was a firm believer that too often tests don’t really show the working competence level of most. He taught us how to think critically and how to express that critical thinking in verbal and written form. Most of our tests were a discussion in a small group. His passion was to teach us how to think, interact with others and then be able to write. What’s amazing was that this was in the early 80’s before computers; power point, the Internet and social media existed.
So is it possible that sometimes an F could be an A and an A could be an F? What happened to the merging of both brain smarts and also common sense smarts? I have always been fascinated to watch someone that hasn’t graduated from High School tear apart my car engine and resurrect it from the dead. If my friend were asked to write down everything he did it would be in broken English without much grammar. Yet, my engine didn’t need a grammatically gifted spokesperson but a hands on type that wasn’t afraid to fail in order to learn.
What happens when your family that has multiple kids all have different aptitudes and learning curves? Do you force all of them to fit into your box or do you become creative and allow each kid to learn in his or her own context at their own speed? Fortunately today there are more options with different types of schools that range from STEM, culinary, mechanics, art and literature. I’m thrilled that job corps are now nation wide to help those that are great at doing hands on type of work but would struggle or fail in the traditional school setting.
I have to admit that I too often push for people to fit into by box or way of thinking and slowly have come to the awareness that what makes life so exciting, different and meaningful is the fact that we’re all different!
I’m so glad that one size doesn’t fit everyone!!