Educators educating Educators

Jan 19

Educational Beliefs

“ My job is not to standardized education but to customize it by personalizing it.  Great teachers have always understood that their role is not to teach subjects but to teach students.” ~ Sir Ken Robinson


“Emotion is the on-off switch of learning.  We don’t talk about it enough as a pedagogy tool.  Fear and shame shut it off; hope, enthusiasm, and safety turn it on.” ~ Edward Hallowell


Cognition and emotion are really two sides of the same coin.  There is no thinking/cognition without emotion.


Brains are like hearts; they go where they are appreciated.



People routinely show variability in behavior, rarely performing at a single fixed level consistently. All behavior emerges through interactions between person and context, and thus performance varies dramatically and systematically depending on many factors such as arousal level, emotional state, task demands, and assessment conditions.

Human behavior is both flexible and dynamic, and behavior is both complex and variable.

Diversity is the hallmark of human behavior

Behavior comes from more than just the person, and more than just the context: It is always about the person-in-context

Fluctuations in performances can be frustration, but they are normal. The fact is that variation is a part of all human behavior. Yet, despite its pervasiveness, variability has frequently been ignored in developmental science

Many different factors influence performance, and this makes behavior both complex and variable

A person’s performance change depending on the context of the environment, including the presence of different people, tossing a baseball, or solving a math problem either in class or at home under parental supervision



Megan on diversity

“At my school I have black kids, Puerto Rican kids, gay and lesbian kids, Megan use a wheelchair, Matt’s deaf, and I have Down’s syndrome. It’s all diversity.”

This statement recognizes disability as a basic diversity issue, that disability is not to be pitted, patronized, or vilified is important in helping children feel comfortable with their disability. Students are unlikely to progress well in school and in life if they are ashamed of their disability or uncomfortable disclosing it. They are incapacitated as they deal with the “different” issue that arises out of their disability, such as the need for accommodations/modifications/support.

Schools need to provide a supportive environment in which disabled students learning is directly tied to improving their education results and provide a supportive environment in which disabled students can learn is directly tied to improving their education results.


Is the child disabled or is the curriculum disabled?

What are the most common disabilities in existing curricula?

What does the term “print disabled” mean?

Printed text offer few opportunities for meeting the challenge of individual differences in terms of engagement.

While readers are highly differentiated, printed books are a “one-size-fits-all.” Printed books place a high burden on teachers to customize methods and materials ‘post-hoc.” In this context, text’s uniformity and consistency is not a virtue.

Traditional classroom methods and materials have, for centuries, been based on the affordances of print. But print is fixed and standardized medium that is a poor platform for differentiation of instruction.

For 500 years, the preferred medium of communication and literacy has been the printed text. Concepts of learning and teaching have been driven by printed text, and our classroom pedagogies have been organized around the strengths and weaknesses of print.

The strength of printed text, permanence or “fixedness”, is also its weakness, especially as a pedagogical instrument. In a universe of highly individualized readers, “one-size-fits-all” printed text offers a gateway to knowledge for some, and a hurdle or outright barrier for others.

The range and severity of barriers in printed text are often underestimated, and students who experience difficulty learning from text are often labeled with aggregate terms such as dyslexia and/or learning disabled.


Take-Away Point

To state the obvious, the job of a public school is to educate the public. Today, as our society becomes more diverse, schools will also naturally become more diverse. The job of a public school is not to reject this changing diversity and variability of its student population, but moreover, expect it and embrace it.




Kurt W. Fischer (2009). Mind, Brain, and Education: Building a Scientific Groundwork for Learning and Teaching. Mind, Brain, and Education, Volume 3, 2 to 15.

Dynamic Systems Theories, L. Todd Rose & Kurt W. Fischer. In R. A. Shweder (Ed.), Chicago companion to the child. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

David Rose and Bridget Dalton, (2009). Learning to Read in the Digital Age. Mind, Brain, and Education, Volume 3, 74 -83.

Cast: (Center for Applied Scientific Technology), Transforming Education through Universal Design for Learning. CAST is a nonprofit research and development organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals, especially those with disabilities, through Universal Design for Learning.




“If we can control the attention of the child, we solve the problems of education.” Maria Montessori

This month Ed Tip will examine how to improve students' learning by activating their attention.