Education for Every Child Based on Their Individual Interests and Learning Needs

Let’s stop arguing and let teachers teach. 

As our public education system slips and slides down the international scale of standards and knowledge, our students and teachers are paying the price in a system run by fear and teaching to the test.

Let's Let Teachers Teach Every Student Based on Needs and Interests

What has happened to education in America?

A simple answer is politics. Instead of working together to improve a once solid system, we are becoming polarized in our political views of how education should be run.

Some believe education should run as a business. Money in, equals profit out. The profit in education is test scores and numbers, not how well our children are prepared for the workforce and their communities.

Every student is looked at as potential profit with potential return. Students who do not perform well on tests get left behind. Teachers no longer have time to work with struggling students. They must continue pumping out material so every student has an opportunity to succeed on the assessment. Those who fall behind must catch up on their own.

How we will find every child’s strengths and give them equal access to resources when we are too focused on measuring their success on paper?

Walter McKenzie, on The Whole Child Blog, says the current education system does not reference a choice or children –

  • Education is a public enterprise funded by taxpayers.
  • Government reports to taxpayers on its performance.
  • Elected officials craft policy and practice in the name of accountability.

McKenzie says our education system is being run as a “business that needs to produce numbers to justify the value.”

Some believe the way to “fix” education is to privatize it. This will allow the haves to continue to succeed and receive a strong education, while the have nots will continue to struggle to gain access to opportunities.

Others believe holding teachers and schools accountable is the right way to go. Put numbers to paper on how well each student is doing and that will rate the job of every teacher and in turn rate schools.

But what does this really do?

It takes away the individual strengths of each child, and lumps everyone into one pile – you get it or you don’t. Individual interests, ability and learning needs go out the window along with discovery and well rounded learning in an environment of fear. Educators teach in fear, students take assessments in fear.

Let’s stop the arguing and the fights over how to politically reform public education and refocus on our kids.

Focus on every single one of them and what makes them special and unique.

Let’s trust teachers make the decisions for each of their students in the classroom instead of making uneducated decisions in a courtroom. Teachers are the experts in education, not politicians.

We leave you with Silhouette Man and his opinions of American education…

Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today

Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today


8 replies
  1. Charlie R
    Charlie R says:

    A great analogy to think about that goes very well with Steve’s blog. Imagine two sets of 20 students. One set of students all have their legs tied together while the other set are allowed to run individually. If you start them both at the same time who wins with all students across the finish line? The set of 20 students allowed to learn at their own speed and their own way will always cross the finish line first, while the students who are tied together will have those in front held back and those behind drug along and the whole “team” is negatively impacted.

    • Susan Wells
      Susan Wells says:

      What a great analogy Charlie. I always remind myself that 4 singles are better than 1 homerun. Individuals using their strengths and their successes within a team will always win.

  2. Danrey
    Danrey says:

    During my formal observation I taught a lesson in which my class scored 100% on the follow-up activity. I taught in a way that I knew my individual students needed to be taught. I was marked down on my observation because I didn’t teach the lesson according to a checklist created by a man who wrote a book! Therefore, to the public’s eye I am not as an effective teacher as those who put on a show for admin. during their observation. Should we ask parents if they’d rather their child have a teacher who teaches to the students with great results or a teacher who teaches according to a checklist?

    • Susan Wells
      Susan Wells says:

      Danrey – examples like yours are what really frustrate me. The people making decisions for our schools are so caught up in checklists and directions that the entire focus of education is lost. What truly is the goal of each individual lesson? Allowing the teacher to open the students’ minds to the topic and have them understand it beyond just being able to answer multiple choice on a quiz later or is it to make sure our teachers teach according to the book? This goes back to trusting our teachers to make the right decisions for the students sitting in their classroom.

      • Danrey
        Danrey says:

        Funny, admin. asked if I had to do the lesson over again would I do it differently. I told them NO! I went on to say, I was hired to do what is best for my students not follow a checklist from a man who wrote a book. So if that means getting marked down on my observation then so be it. However, I know my students understood what I was teaching and that’s all that matters to me.

  3. Russ
    Russ says:

    As a Montessori Upper Elementary Teacher (grades 4, 5, 6) I feel that I follow the interests and needs of my students everyday. They do not get to control what is learned as I have a plan in place to make sure that each child learns, but it happens at their pace in the style that works for them. Oh and I teach in a public school so there is no tuition cost for the families.

  4. Kristi
    Kristi says:

    Excellent article! With a school age son now, I’ve been watching how these standards lump all kids together in one bucket. What if we aren’t all interesting in becoming engineers or scientists? What if some of us are supposed to be artists? Or car mechanics? Or cooks? We need a way for each student to find what makes him fill up with joy and let them shine. If we try to pigeon whole everyone then you get exactly what you said: the haves (who fit) and the others who don’t (and end up at best unhappy and at worst filling up our prisons).


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