Schools are under so much pressure to reach targets; it’s not surprising that some children are left behind because of the pace. These children are then classed as having ‘Special Educational Needs’. Actually, what they have are missing links to vital concepts. This isn’t the fault of the child; it is the fault of the system.
Without doubt, there are children who learn at different speeds; this is the way life is supposed to be. By labelling the children who don’t learn at the necessary pace as having difficulties in learning is tarnishing them for life. It is drummed into them that they are ‘slow’, ‘difficult’ and so many other expressions which are detrimental, degrading and, quite frankly, untrue.
On the other hand, there are children who learn a particular subject at break neck speed but these children are being held back as the system doesn’t cater for their level of expertise at their age. These children are also give a ‘Special Educational Needs’ label.
It appears that as long as a child is plodding along at the expected speed to reach the expected level at the expected time they can be labelled as ‘average’. And average is good enough!
This just isn’t fair.
It is so frustrating for everyone involved in a child’s education to see this level of inequality.
As a teacher, I could see children who hadn’t had enough time to become independent in a learning area. All it would have taken to help these children to understand the concept would have been to go back a few steps to embed the missing links. When I think back to the times I was told ‘not to worry about it’ or ‘just put them on the ‘special needs register’ I cringe with embarrassment, shame and disappointment.
A good example of this problem can be shown in the area of place value. Personally, I believe that this is a crucial area of mathematics and until it has become embedded into a child’s mind the majority of number work becomes unfathomable.
The concept of 0 being a place holder is an idea that children usually struggle to understand. How many times have you seen 101 written by a child as 1001? They know the numerals needed for 100 and for 1 so understandably 1001 is fine in their minds. Without having all the steps in place to understand hundreds, tens and units, everything else can’t make sense. It is absolutely essential that the child learns those concepts which are missing in the scaffolding process so they can understand the rest of the journey.
I am passionate about children’s learning and find it hard to watch children struggle with their learning. The Learning Voyage is my way of helping those involved in children’s learning to be able to see the steps necessary for success and to recognise any that may have been missed.