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Pet trainers recently developed a premiere academy for animals. In this inclusive learning environment, the trainers hoped to prepare the different animals to be skilled outside of their natural talents. So, dogs were trained to sit all day. Monkeys were trained to track like hounds. Birds were forced to climb trees like monkeys. Ducks were made to run like dogs.
The trainers were excited to see how things would turn out and — you guessed it — they didn’t turn out well. After the dogs failed to sit still all day, the trainers were perplexed. So they hired a doctor who diagnosed the dogs with ADD or ADHD (he wasn’t sure) and promptly medicated them.
The monkeys put their heart into tracking but couldn’t really develop the acute smelling senses necessary. The birds were hospitalized when they injured their talons climbing trees and were soon a disappointment. And the ducks! The ducks dropped out of the academy when their webbed feet were worn out from the constant running.
Dumbfounded, the trainers hired researchers to discover why the animals failed. Soon they developed policy like the “No Animal Left Behind Act” and the “Common Characteristics Standards Act” emphasizing that animal trainers and schools will be held accountable for what they do and how they train their animals. Some winced at the lack of common sense and others naively placed their faith in the ideas.
By now you’re probably wondering where I am going with this. What I’m trying to say is that the problem with most — though not all — of our education system is obvious. Our educational goals are out of whack with what we now know about the nature of learners. Furthermore, the gains we have made in educational research over the past few decades are not being fully utilized in our educational policies at the national and state level.
In short, we now know each learner has about eight different intelligence areas that he or she can be naturally gifted in. Furthermore, most learners acquire knowledge in one of three different ways.
I contend that by adapting our education goals and policies to these scientific facts, we can decrease the achievement gap, increase our student success rate and multiply the human capital our schools are developing. In my next letter, I will describe how we can do just that.
The writer is pastor of Bethel Baptist Church and a candidate for House District 24.