chasing tails…not just for dogs!

In Education, Pedagogy on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 08:19

Why Do Educators Appear to be Chasing Their Tails?

Four key findings in Promoting Healthy Minds Primed for Learning:
1) A baby’s brain at birth is the least developed organ. An analogy often used is that the brain is like a house built from the bottom up. The brain continues to develop through connections created by sensory experiences from birth onwards.

2) IQ is not fixed at birth. The baby’s experiences physiologically change the brain creating more connections. The quality and richness of the experiences have a major effect on learning and brain development.

3) Learning is life-long but there are critical sensitive periods of time when the brain functions like a giant sponge absorbing specific information.

4) Emotions effect learning. Strong negative emotions have the capacity to weaken the wiring of the brain.

With thoughts of the key neurological findings above I find it concerning that the current focus on ‘content and assessment’ reduces the time teachers have to plan and implement strategies that support how children learn and an environment that is supportive of learning and risk-taking.

It seems to fit into the ‘chasing the tail’ syndrome. There are specific standards that must be reached by students at particular timeframes. The pressure to meet these performance measurements results in class teachers believing that there is ‘little time’ for social emotional wellbeing development. Time is spent in planning, moderating, implementing and assessing. There is little time to ‘catch up’ students falling behind or for the repetition that is necessary for memory storage.

At the end of the term, exhausted teachers gather their assessment together and wonder what went wrong for a proportion of their students. It is not only ‘at risk’ students who have under-performed. Several students will have failed to meet expected standards.

Often the needs of socially and economically disadvantaged students are targeted for learning readiness intervention and support. However there are many and varied reasons for the inhibition of learning as can be seen in the range of students who do not achieve to their expected potential. Conflict in the home, terminal illness in the family, natural disasters, friendship problems, bullying and many other misfortunes lead to strong emotions affecting how students view their world.

The whole concept of ‘intelligence’ is changing. Children with ‘healthy minds’ and ‘inner strengths’ have an increased capacity to achieve social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing and reach expected performance measures within appropriate timelines. But if their inner worlds are in turmoil and they do not commence each day with a focus on building onto their inner strengths, their ability to use higher order thinking skills will be compromised.
I’m hoping that there will be an end to this ‘Chasing the Tail’ syndrome sooner rather than later for the future wellbeing of our young students.

Retrieved from: http://www.ready2resource.com.au/why-do-educators-appear-to-be-chasing-their-tails/


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