Will rescuing the princess rescue education?

13 Nov

“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.  It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.  As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.  I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.  In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.”

– Dr. Haim Ginott

This is the most inspirational and true quote that I have seen about teaching.  The teacher’s attitude has an incredible impact on the entire class.  Children’s lives are influenced on a daily basis.

There has been a push in the teaching world away from the human element and towards the computer in ways such as game-based learning, individualized programs, and online classes.  Yes, these provide more focused instruction to individual students in many cases, but does it take away from important aspects of a student’s education?

Schools are a place where young people learn much more than the subjects that are taught.  Interacting with peers, respecting rules, and working collaboratively are all skills that are not easily taught in person, let alone in an online environment.  Think about how much students would miss out on if they spent all day with earbuds in and videos on their screen.

The differentiated lessons offered with this type of learning is great, don’t get me wrong, but there needs to be a human element as well.  The more we de-humanize people and think of them only as the avatar in the corner or a single picture, the more we disregard their feelings.  We also end up with weaker social interaction and discussion skills.

Without the human side of education, students will miss out on motivation from the teacher.  Will the game on the computer give students motivation at the time?  I’m sure it will, but what happens when the game disappears?  Will that student’s motivation disappear as well?

There is never a perfect system, but balance is an important idea to keep in mind.  Using games as motivation can be great.  Online communication is a necessary still.  And individualized instruction is a key factor in helping students.  As long as a balance is maintained, students will have a chance to succeed in multiple environments and situations.

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