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Eddings: Discriminating teaching styles harm students

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

The importance of education has been driven into most of us since we were children. When a child turns six years old, they have no option but to attend school through the compulsory education act. Without an education one is most likely not going to succeed in our society. However, the type of education children and young adults are receiving did not evolve with the times like it should have.

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The educational system is outdated and unsuccessful, but continues to be implemented because there is no cohesive plan to change it. The education that everyone has a right to is universal, but the manner in which students are being taught is not universally beneficial. When the individuality of students isn’t considered, the student suffers while others succeed because it is catered towards them.

There have been studies to prove that not everyone learns the same. Some students learn visually, kinesthetically, aurally, or with reading and writing. Right now the way our students are taught is for the reading/writing learner, especially when they enter the high school or collegiate level. If a student succeeds in school, it’s because they can learn on a time constraint, operate well under high pressure, and understand the typical material from reading. Most teachers teach by instructing students to read, and then they expand on the material with powerpoint slides and subsequent verbal explanation, which the reading/writing and some auditory students respond to. 

However, studies have proven that the reading/writing student is the least common student. Kinesthetic and visual students are the most common but are the least utilized within the classroom. Students that succeed within the system without those skills have done so with memorization, not learning. Since the educational system hasn’t evolved, the students have adapted, but not for the best. Memorization is a technique students use to get a better grade, but it is a short term solution that will be eventually forgotten. In the majority of my classes, memorization is the technique that I use, and I know from experience that as soon as the test is over or the class is done all the information I was supposed to learn disappears. 

Asking students to adapt is taking away their natural inclinations. For example, if a student is artistic, they are most likely a visual learner but more often than not the student is instructed to learn in a reading or writing form. The student is expected to not only adapt to that learning form, but to also be tested about the information in that form. Though some can still learn this way with hard work, it is harder for them then the student who exceeds in reading/writing. It is tedious, and should not be this way for students simply because of a personality difference.

Being told that you are failing all the time takes a toll. When someone is confident in their skill or talent, there is a higher likelihood that they will contribute something substantial to their society simply because they believe in themselves. For at least ten years, the visual learner, the kinesthetic learner, and sometimes the aural learner are subconsciously taught they are not smart. Their role within society slowly drains them because they were never encouraged to pursue something they were passionate about.

The non-reading/writing student that doesn’t fail does however gain some invaluable skills, perseverance, flexibility, determination, and so on. An argument could be made that they are learning more than the natural student. They have the uphill battle, and it’s much more rewarding to succeed under the pressure. However, if they can succeed despite of the system, what could they be capable of if they were able to learn in their natural habitat? Under the right conditions, they could thrive.

Its the responsibility of the teachers to make the change on how they teach, and the responsibility of the administrators to enforce a policy. Standing at the front of the classroom and reading off slides is discriminating to the other type of learners. Integrating kinetic, and visual teaching styles into lesson plans needs to be implemented so that more than one student has the opportunity to succeed in the educational system. 

Raychelle Eddings can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @raybean14.

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