Put Away the Cookie Cutters in Education

Dear Editor:

We hear it, we say it, and we actually have proof that every student learns differently. So, I say it’s time to put away the cookie cutter way of teaching and embrace their differences. We know from years of studies, that no two people process information or think the same way. This is even before factoring in external resources and environment. If this is true, then why is our curriculum still following a strict path instead of permitting and endorsing the flexibility teachers are trying so hard to accomplish? And the larger question to ask is: can flexibility in the classroom and standardized tests coexisit?

Flexibility in teaching styles vary based on their settings. For teacher Ms. Lisa Baaklini, her flexibility requires “adapting to [her] students’ individual needs and working toward success academically and in life.” From observing her teaching, Ms. Baaklini adjusts based on what is best for her students. Sometimes this is taking a few minutes to discuss an issue that is bothering them; other times it requires working with the students in a more traditional setting. She is not alone in this style of teaching. If you enter any classroom, you’ll see teachers setting aside their well thought out plans to adapt to the current needs of their students.

I have had the incredible privilege of teaching in Taiwan for two years, a public general education classroom for six months, a private dyslexia school for one year, and am now in my second year at a public charter school. I am the same teacher. The curriculum is the same for all of these different settings. The biggest changes in all of these environments? They are the students and how I deliver information to each of them for individual success. The students are learning the same type of curriculum and working toward the success of assessments.

Amy Goldberg-Tseng