Thirty universes

You’re an astronomer whose job it is to observe celestial bodies, galaxies, black holes–in short, everything that can be perceived in the universe. It goes without saying this is a complicated task. There’s so much to study, and there’s so much we don’t know. A scientist could spend his or her lifetime observing the universe and not even begin to exhaust its complexities.

Imagine if there were thirty universes with completely different laws. 

You’re a physician who deals with various bodily afflictions. Of course, every person’s health is different, but fortunately you have a strong understanding of the human body: bones, veins, blood, lungs… the body is complicated, but it’s measurable and possible to study.

Imagine if there were thirty alien bodies with completely different physical structures. 

You’re a top athlete who’s mastered how to play basketball. You’re a pro at dunks, assists, three-pointers, and free throws. You just helped your team beat an opponent.

Imagine tomorrow night you have to play with a different sized ball every thirty seconds. Would this affect your shooting and ball handling? 

Teachers deal with approximately thirty students. That’s thirty different universes. Thirty different bodies. Thirty different basketballs. Each one different. Each one with his or her own learning modality.

What does schooling do? It treats each universe the same. It says that these standards are good enough for everyone. It says that this test is sufficient for assessing mastery. It says that bell schedules, five-day weeks, grades, and compliance are one-size-fits-all constructions. Educators do the best they can to teach children who have:

  1. Different backgrounds

  2. Different experiences

  3. Different cognitive developments

  4. Different values

  5. Different interests

  6. Different learning modalities

  7. Different desires

  8. Different emotions

  9. Different abilities

  10. Different ways they started the day

Thirty universes whose complexities are impossible to comprehend, let alone study sufficiently. It’s impossible to learn how each student best learns in 9.5 months. As soon as a teacher gets an inkling of how individual students can learn successfully, the kids have summer break before staring over with new teachers.

Imagine the skin in the game if teachers had students for multiple years. What would happen if we understood the thirty intricate universes just a little better? 

It’s safe to say that Dumbing Us Down has me thinking.

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3 thoughts on “Thirty universes

  1. Fantastic Post! I love the way this is written, and helps me remember that each student arrives in my classroom with a universe of baggage as well. Good and bad, I have to be mindful of it all.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Pingback: When it comes to edtech, be like Siddhartha | Rise and Converge

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