Everybody thinks that if you are a doctor you must be really smart. In fact, that “M.D.” behind one’s name often instills a sense of confidence that intellectually, the physician must know what he or she is talking about. So here is the real deal, you should be confident in your physician’s abilities but not because you think they are smart, but because they have the drive, dedication and work ethic needed to complete the exuberate amount of education and training necessary to get where they are. Don’t make the assumption though that it was easy, and that physicians (and other higher level professionals) relied on just their intellect to make it through . . . speaking from personal experience, it was anything but easy.
After 18 years in practice, about a month ago I had a revelation that I wish I had had back in second grade. I realized that the educational system in this country falls prey to the old saying of “putting the cart before the horse.” Our system is set up to assume that all children learn the same way. Teachers are trained to teach kids using the top two learning styles (visual learning and auditory learning), with a little hands-on, kinesthetic work just to sweeten the pot. The thought is that by using two to three learning styles to teaching children, educators will capture the majority of the class and children will successfully understand the content. But think about this: there are eight (8) learning styles and out of those eight, there are some people who don’t use the visual or auditory learning as their primary way to learn.
So what does this mean? This means that some kids will struggle in school. Some kids may even fail just because they are not being taught in a manner in which their brain can adequately process the information and really learn. Understand that the way most school systems are set up in this country, it is not until these kids fail to perform to their expected capabilities that teachers and parents become concerned. But by then the damage has most likely already been done. I know that sounds dramatic, but have you thought about the consequences of failure? Low Self-Esteem. Depression. Anxiety. School Avoidance. Defiance. Those are all things that can be consequences of a child not being able to acquire the information they are supposed to, and have the innate ability to, learn.
Along with my revelation, I had an epiphany: We should seek to understand how a child learns before we even begin to try to teach them. I know that sounds like a reach, a little too idealistic but it really is possible. In fact, it’s quite easy, and simple, to get an idea of how your child may learn just by doing learning style surveys. You don’t have to go to a psychologist, developmental specialist, or doctor; these surveys can be found online! I will say, though, for parents who are interested in ensuring that there are absolutely no obstacles to your child’s learning, I would encourage obtaining baseline cognitive testing through a clinical psychologist. Unfortunately all that glitters isn’t gold and there is a catch: traditional health insurance companies don’t cover this type of testing unless there is proof that the testing is indicated for poor academic performance. But still, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider the testing. There are resources everywhere, you just have to figure out which ones are available to you.
One last thing: let’s not forget that learning occurs outside of the classroom as well. Kids aren’t born knowing how to tie their shoes, how to make their beds, or how to clean their rooms. Wouldn’t it be nice to know when your child requires hands-on demonstration (kinesthetic), written instructions (visual) or verbal cues (auditory) to learn these tasks the first time? Better yet, wouldn’t it be nice to know that turning off the television for a musical learner is actually counter-productive? Hmmm . . . something to think about.
Why not consider setting your child up for success before waiting for them to fail? Just a thought.