RATIONALE FOR TABLET USE by Karina D. Barley
Imagine a school, just for one moment… where you walked into the door of the school….and the very first questionnaire would contain the questions: “What do you love to do?” What is your favorite thing in life? What are you good at? What would make you smile? How would life/school be if you could do the things that you love to do?
Imagine a school whose curriculum catered for those kinds of questions…and designed a pedagogical program that is individual to your child, based on the answers to those questions?
Teaching to Children's Strengths
It is then that we could abandon English, Math, Science, etc. in the way that it is taught now, where we just deliver buckets of information that has no relevance to kids. Alternatively, let’s say a child’s interest is cooking; what if we were to inspire them to want to learn for example they will want to learn to read because by reading they can gain more information from recipe books. They will want to learn about measurement because this knowledge will help them to become a better chef. They will want to learn about money because they will want to go shopping to purchase their ingredients. They will want to learn about science in the context of how cooking and science interrelate. They will want to learn to write, because they will want to write their own recipes. Just recently, there's a program called Master Junior Chef and everyone is amazed at how incredible the children are.
The comments I hear are "can you believe those kids?" "Those kids are just brilliant". "I can't believe they can cook like that." The recipe (pardon the pun) really isn't that difficult to understand and while I don't want to take away from those amazing kids (because they really are amazing), but these kids are shining because they LOVE to cook; they LOVE to do what they are doing; and when children LOVE doing something, they WILL learn!!! You don't have to ask them, or cajole them into it, they can't wait to get into the kitchen to cook; and to be a better cook, they will learn to read a recipe, learn the math required to get their recipes right; understand the science behind what makes recipes work, flavors taste better etc; and develop creativity in the way they present their food. As I said above, it really is NOT difficult to comprehend and in my mind, this gives me a "recipe", a foundation, a platform from which educating children should stem from. If we start with what they LOVE to do; the rest comes naturally.
I personally believe that using technology can bridge the gaps for those children who are struggling, but also make learning easier for any child. These kids come to school ‘tech’ ready and digitally aware so it makes sense that we give 21st century children, learn using 21st Century technology.
Just read this article about Toni Braxton (click here to read for yourself). This really disturbs me and saddens me at the same time. First, I do not believe any God would punish a child for anything their parents have done. Second, I do not believe Autism is a punishment for anyone. Is it a hard road sometimes? Yes! But to suggest that these kids are a punishment is tantamount to saying they are damaged and deficient and I do NOT for one minute believe that kids with Autism are deficient. We have so much to learn from Autism and I don't want to offend parents, but when you look at your child from a perspective of lack, suffering and sadness then of course Autism will feel like a punishment.
Please understand I am NOT diminishing anyone's experience because in my work, I see many parent's struggle, heartache and torment in trying to work out what is best for their child. I've watched them cry in dismay and wish for a child that was 'neurotypical'. But I've also witnessed parents express awe at what their child can do; light up when they try to explain who their child really is; and display frustration when no one else gets it.
Would we really wish Autism away and believe for a cure? That is a moot question and a question that merits so much more discussion. I for one would not want eradicate Autism. I've learned so much in the last 8 years from teaching children on the spectrum, that I can't imagine that I would have made such discoveries any other way. I've learned to not judge a book by it's cover; not everything is as it seems; to step outside of the box of my own 'teaching' philosophy; to be more creative and forward thinking as a teacher; that there is more than one way to learn; that these kids can teach me; that simple and quiet is sometimes better; and to never give up.
What we need instead, is AWARENESS!!!!!! UNDERSTANDING!!!!! & TOLERANCE!!!!!
Awareness that difference is ok and we can adjust to the difference. Understanding that what looks like 'negative' behaviour is behaviour that 1 tells us something and 2. may be causing pain for the child. Tolerance for difference, uniqueness and diversity. It would not hurt any of us to learn how to be more 'Autism friendly'.
I make no apologies for this rant, but if I could speak to Toni Braxton, I would tell her that her child is not a punishment but a blessing. Again, parents please let me reiterate that I know it's tough and difficult and might sometimes feel like the journey is a punishment, but at the same time I also know the joy, the delight and the fascination that is Autism.