I’ve been interested in Special Needs education for a long time, but I’ve never really know much about Tourette’s. I stumbled across this article a few days ago and found it really interesting.
Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
This is a quotation, attributed to Albert Einstein, which is repeated over and again all over the internet every time our government makes a proposal about education that some people disagree with. To me, it’s one of life’s little annoyances. Why?
Well, for starters Albert Einstein never actually said it. If you don’t believe me take a few moments to Google it now, and if you find any proof at all that he did, please leave a link in the comments below.
Secondly, it’s untrue. If fish had never climbed trees there would be no tree-dwelling animals now and there would be no humans. We’d all still be swimming round at the bottom of the oceans.
Thirdly, it’s even more untrue. There are actually fish, living today, which can climb trees. Seriously. Google it.
Fourthly, it’s a downright lie. Not everyone is a genius. Most of us aren’t. The ones who are make it into the history books.
And Lastly? It’s just a cop out! It’s a way of absolving ourselves from the responsibility of educating our children.
When I look back over my childhood, there are two types of teachers who stand out. There are the ones who made me believe I could do anything if I tried and who then gave me the confidence to try, and there are those who told me I’d never climb trees because I was a fish. I’ll never forget Mr Holmes, who saw the potential behind the timid little mouse and gave me a speaking part in the school play. I’ll also never forget the music teacher (who I won’t name) who told me that with a voice like mine I really shouldn’t sing, because over 30 years later I can’t even sing along to the radio if I think someone else is within earshot .
Our job as teachers is not to look at our class and sort them into runners, swimmers, fliers and climbers. Our job is to equip every child with shoes, flippers, wings and ropes and to make sure that every single one of them achieves all of the skills to the best of their ability.
Some of them may run marathons and some may never run further than the corner of the road; some may swim the channel and some may just about doggy paddle their way to a 5m badge; some may soar high above the ground and some may only hover a few centimetres from the floor; some might make it to the top of the tree and some may never make it past the first branch. But with the right teaching and encouragement, there is no reason why any child in a mainstream school, and most children in special schools, shouldn’t run and swim and fly and climb.
So you’ll never find me retweeting nonsense about Einstein and fish. Instead you’ll find me in my classroom, helping some of the children build a ladder to reach the first branch and holding a safety net to encourage the others to reach for the top of the tree. Who’s with me?
I was once asked in an interview what I thought the difference was between teaching adults and teaching children.
There is of course the obvious factor that adults are in a classroom because they want to be there and because, for the most part, they have chosen to study the subject you are teaching. Children on the other hand are in the classroom because the law states that they have to be. You would think therefore that the adults would be more motivated.
However, children have learnt to learn, whereas adults have forgotten how. Children come to school each day expecting to learn, and they know that they will be required to put in some effort and take responsibility for their own learning. Adults arrive at their evening class tired after a full day at work and think that sitting in a lesson and just listening is the same as learning. Children are prepared to practise a new skill for a longer period of time because they know they need to. Adults tend to try one or two examples and decide that’s enough, so they don’t complete the embedding process. I’m not criticising. I’m often guilty of this myself.
So much for the difference in learning between adults and children. What about teaching methods? When I first started out I thought that teaching adults and children would be very different. I imagined that teaching adults would be a lot more serious, but this turned out not to be the case. I discovered that the more games I introduced, the more the adults engaged with the lesson and the better they learnt. Songs and video clips proved equally popular. After talking to other teachers of adults I have come to the conclusion that there really is no difference in methods that work.
So, back to the original question: What is the difference between teaching adults and children? I think the main difference is the content and context rather than style. Depending on the subject adults may require content to be more in-depth than children, or they may wish to focus on a smaller area such as handling money and paying household bills. I wouldn’t teach children how to order a beer in a foreign language, whereas this is a favourite for adults! Context for children will focus on their limited life experiences, and relate to school, playground games, holidays. Adults will be less interested in school and playtime, but will relate to the context of work, home and holidays.
What do you think the main differences are?
For language, maths or English tuition in the north Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall area visit www.sjbteaching.com. For links to other interesting education-related articles, please like my facebook page.
It took me a long time to start out in teaching. When I first graduated with my joint honours degree in French and Spanish, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. The only thing I knew with any certainty was that I did not want to be a teacher! I worked as an editor for a financial institution in London for a while, and then spent 11 years as a project manager in the translation industry.
In my spare time I was learning ballroom and Latin American dancing, and my teacher suggested that I train to be a dance teacher myself. I wasn’t sure, but decided I had nothing to lose by trying so I gave it a go. I loved it! I qualified as a ballroom dance teacher in 1998 and as a Latin dance teacher in 2001. I never thought I would enjoy teaching so much, and I started to wonder whether I should go back to university to do a PGCE. I decided not to because I was still happy in the translation industry, and I was good at what I did. As I got promoted to more senior roles within the industry, I took on more responsibility for training and mentoring new staff, and I enjoyed that too. We had new software installed company-wide. I was the first person to figure out how to use it,and I ended up running a telephone helpdesk for other employees because they said my explanations were easier to understand than either the user guide or the tech guys. While I was writing a user-guide with screenshots and easy to understand English, I started to wonder again about teaching, and this time I got as far as researching courses at local universities. But still the time didn’t seem right. I was good at my job, which by now also involved travelling abroad, giving presentations and running workshops for some of the company’s most important clients. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be any good at teaching and so yet again I pushed the idea to the back of my mind.
Then something happened that made me realise life is too short to delay important decisions, and a few weeks after that I stumbled across an advert for a new PGCE where I could train in primary AND secondary education. That seemed like an interesting option, and so although I had missed the application deadline for that year I went along to the open day just to see what it was all about. Unbelievably they still had places left and so I applied, was accepted and started a year earlier than I thought I could. Training in both primary and secondary gave me a really good grounding across a whole range of ages, which has been useful since deciding to work as a supply teacher. I now love the fact that I can be having a tea-party in the sandpit in Nursery one day, and teaching languages at university the next. I love everything about my job, but the best part is helping children who are not reaching their full potential to succeed. These days I specialise not just in languages, but in maths and English tuition, and in multi-sensory teaching methods for tutoring children with dyslexia. Becoming a teacher and a private tutor is the best decision I have made.
If possible, make the letter you choose sound like the thing you are writing about. In the sentence “The snake slithered slowly through the grass” the repeated ‘s’ sounds like a snake hissing, so it will make your teacher think “Double Wow!” Be careful though. Only the interesting words count, so if I say “I’m going to Trinidad” the two ts don’t count because “to” isn’t an exciting word.