Thursday, November 03, 2011

Class teaching vs. Individual teaching 2

Otto Salomon saw individual teaching as being essential for Sloyd and for all other subjects, and this excerpt from The Theory of Educational Sloyd will help to explain why:
"A number of children who are being instructed and addressed at the same time by the teacher may be regarded as being individually taught, when the intellects *(and interests) of all those under instruction are at the same stage of progress, and this is the limitation we must add to the definition with which we started. If, for instance, a new subject is going to be taught to a number of children simultaneously, and none of the children know anything of it, the teaching is individual teaching, because there is equality of mind, which results from uniformity of ignorance about the new subject.

But after the first lesson has been given, this equality of mind no longer exists; for, of all the members of the class, some understood more and some less, while some retain more and others less." *(and some were not interested in the first place!)
*(Notes within parentheses mine.)
Salomon suggests that this can be partially remedied by next arranging the students into smaller groups each at the same level of understanding, but that these again must be next divided into smaller groups, and ever smaller groups down to the individual if teaching is to be effective. Salomon believed that Educational Sloyd was not a school subject, but rather a means of education that could be applied as a model to every subject.
"All good education must be based on the nature of the child... In nature there are no two things exactly alike--no two trees, flowers, human forms or faces. No one will assert that the natures--physical, moral, or mental--of any two children are the same. If this be granted, it readily follows that class teaching, as a means of education, is not good either in Sloyd or any other school subject... Class teaching may be good economically, but it is bad educationally."
Given the inefficiencies of class instruction, it would seem that if the subject really mattered, (and the lesson drawn by so many kids is that it does not) we would teach it in a manner in which we knew it to be understood by all children in the class. There are some important interpersonal connections made during individualized instruction. The student is made to feel that someone actually cares both about the subject and about his or her success in mastering it. There is a big movement to use computers to create individualized learning opportunities in schools. This may be a way to eliminate caring staff. One must truly hope not, for to be taught individually by someone who truly cares, whether in art, music, history or math seems to have become a luxury in American education.

For an earlier post on a similar subject I refer you to Children are not clockwork.

I want to share an exquisite essay by David Brittan, who had written an earlier piece I had shared with my blog readers, Mr. Mens meet Mr. Manus. David is the editor of Tufts Magazine, a reader of this blog, and one who understands the significance of the hands in the making of both civilization and self. His essay With Hands Like These can be found here.

Make, fix and create.

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