Teaching the whole student | SierraSun.com

Teaching the whole student

Vicki Isacowitz
On the Chalkboard

Approaches to education vary from state to state. Nationwide, our country attempts to do its best in educating every student to read by the third grade and be proficient in various areas of mathematics. We have become a nation of testing and assessments, where reaching benchmarks becomes the primary focus of teachers, parents, and the students.

The results of standardized testing make this cause for such tactics, regardless of whether or not a teacher, parent, or student agrees.

When students fall short to rank at an average level of proficiency for their deemed grade level, measures are implemented to get that student up to snuff as soon as possible. These sometimes entail additional hours of language arts or mathematics with a removal of opportunities to learn about science, social studies, art, music, drama or foreign languages. Although these methods of increasing the hours spent on areas of difficulty prove positive results, for the most part, they create a different environment toward learning.

Focusing on areas of weakness can make a student feel inadequate to their peers.

Removing the “fun” from a student’s school day is a movement away from teaching the whole student. The point of school and education is to engage students in learning. The goal is to create life-long learning and a never-ending thirst for knowledge. Creativity and abstract thinking are skills just as important as meeting the state standards of core subjects. Students need outlets of expression within inspiring atmospheres.

Teaching the whole students requires education to be broad, providing experiences and opportunities to learn beyond their abilities to calculate and read. Using cross-curriculum to reinforce these skills is an excellent process of creating meaningful episodes in learning. Students learn to open their minds and get a taste of their futures when educated as a whole, as opposed to a deficiency. Yes, it’s imperative that all students have the ability to read, write, and do math, but when this is all they do, especially when they’re not good at it, the opportunity for them to embrace learning potentially diminishes.

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A positive solution to this situation exists somewhere. It has to. The importance of building a student’s skills so he or she function at appropriate grade levels receives recognition, and is not thought of as negative. Becoming competent in math and language arts can be enriching and fun ” don’t get me wrong. Focusing solely on these two educational components in attempts to increase a student’s ability seems overwhelming at times, especially when occasions for studying other subjects of interest are no longer available.

Future progression of educational trends, which are making their way into current existence, will hopefully reinstate a balanced curriculum.

Vicki Isacowitz is a secondary English teacher who has been educating students since 1996. She is co-founder of Clever Minds Educational Services, providing tutoring for students in grades kindergarten-12. For information call 582-1707 or e-mail vicki@cleverminds.org.