Knowing what is best for kids requires knowing kids, each kid. There are varying opinions about the purpose of education, but simply to set a foundation, let’s go with something along the lines of “to develop thriving human beings in society.” That’s a pretty monumental undertaking–but achievable. Essentially, our hope is to help kids grow up to be the best they can be. “The best they can be” has everything to do with them, and little, if anything, to do with us. We are not trying to help kids become the best WE could be. Therefore, our starting point really must be the child’s desires, aptitude, temperament, talents, affinities…you get the picture. Now if kids were as similar to one another as let’s say…chihuahuas are similar to each other, education would be more straightforward. We would know what they’re good at, what they like, and what their limits are. Chihuahuas, by the way, are apparently entertaining little fellas who like to be in charge and are difficult to housebreak. Kids don’t come with profiles. And no amount of standardized testing will give us that valuable information. Ever. Thank goodness. Because what a joy it is to get to know another human being. We are so different and multi-faceted. Parents of two or more kids know that most of what they learned raising the first, doesn’t even apply to the second.
Teachers know it too. Great teachers are not “dog whisperers” for children. They have no magic or secret method. They just care a lot.
Like this teacher.
Because they care, great teachers get to know kids, separately, personally. They learn what’s best for each one, and they will do what they can to meet their needs and free them from anything that isn’t in their best interest.
With the true care and support of adults, kids develop into thriving human beings and citizens. If the aim is to leave no child behind, then we best ensure that by personalizing, not standardizing education. Rather than measuring success with percentages and test scores, success can and must be measured one kid at a time. Can you imagine a graduating class in which every student has at least one invested adult (a teacher, mentor, counselor, coach, or parent) who can vouch “I’m not worried about that kid. They’ll do just fine!”?
Now, how can we make that happen?
At our centers, we get there quite intentionally by making personal, comprehensive mentoring the primary focus from day one.
[photo credit: Kai Abis, PLC alumnus]