A message about individualism…

Children are all unique, just like adults they all have different strengths and weaknesses. Yet for years, we have expected them to learn the same content, in the same way, at the same time.

I believe in the adaptive dimension, and having the right and responsibility to adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of all learners.
I believe in teaching to the whole child through a variety of instructional strategies.
I believe in the value of equity, not equality.

So what does this say about me? About my morality? About the kind of teacher I will be? Well first of all, it should be pointed out that SK teachers have the right and the responsibility to adapt the curriculum up to 50% thanks to the adaptive dimension. With that living document, I feel empowered as a teacher to make the differentiated classroom my reality. This idea of “individualism” is at the core of my philosophy, it relates to instruction, environment, assessment, social justice, the list goes on and on. Individualism is something I value, it is something we all value….yet it is also something that can be used against us, or we can use as a basis to judge others. Is it easier for a teacher at a white middle class school to embrace individualism in the classroom than it is for a teacher at a community school? How often does race, sexual orientation, disability,  religion, and/or class get in the way of “individualism” and become a vehicle for stereotypes?

When we embrace individualism, we accept the whole child for who they are. As teachers we do everything we can to help that child be successful. Whether it be modified assignments, different instructional strategies, incorporating different cultural components or taking the time to say “Hello” in the morning, we accept the challenge.These statements are a crucial part of my philosophy. Out of context these are easy things to say but through a critical lens they have become a part of the person I am trying to be.They tie my other “I believe” statements  together. There is lots of research and ideas out there surrounding differentiated instruction and adapted learning,and I think that is great stuff! I value the resources being made more and more available, but the idea I am getting at here is not a “How To” book on running a classroom, it is about the people involved. The share holders in your classroom, you and your students, the relationships, and the acceptance of individualism. The acceptance of each child. Are you up to the challange?

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4 thoughts on “A message about individualism…

  1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments Allie.
    I agree with your distinction between “equality” and “equity”.
    But I also think we have a particular obsession with individualism in the ‘west’ wrapped up in our very identity.
    I was watching “Fry’s Planet Word” (think it was this episode) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015qqkl and was fascinated by the discussion that so many English words revolve around this idea of the importance of the individual. This was in direct contrast with the Russian language which builds so much more around the idea of community and togetherness.
    Thanks again for raising this important topic.

  2. Hi Allie

    I followed your Twitter message to this post (I found your tweet via Glenis Joyce, who’s tweet led me to the #ecmp355 course tag and then . . . oh, never mind, I’m here now).

    When I caught sight of your message, I clicked the link, expecting to read a post about the perils of individualism in this iWorld we inhabit. However, I agree that a truly student-centred environment (I’ll ignore the spell checker that wants me to type “centered”, as I am speaking to another Canadian) we should do what we can to tailor our teaching to every individual student – a bespoke learning experience. If we can do this while, at the same time, sensitizing individuals to the responsibility they have to be aware of the special needs of others, then that’s great. One of the great challenges of the Internet era is to foster a sense of community as well as a healthy sense of personal identity. One way of doing this is to highlight the many ways in which our sense of self is created through, and supported by, our engagement with others.

    Also, I checked your “About Me” page and see that there are kangaroos at the University of Regina. I didn’t know that. I guess a lot has changed since I left Canada and the Global Warming dial was turned up a few more notches. We all learn something new every day, eh?

    Happy blogging and teaching.

    Mark McGuire
    (a displaced Canadian writing from New Zealand)

    • Thanks for your thoughts Mark! Its always nice to connect with educators via Twitter. I agree that sensitizing students to be aware of the needs of others is very important.

      P.S. Believe it or not that picture was taken down under at the Australia Zoo last year, Haha.

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