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Individualized learning can be the key to independent power


Published:   |   Updated: May 23, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Children have a natural desire to learn as much as they can. From prenatal to two or three years of age their learning curve is steep. They have to learn language, to control their body motions, how to eat, recognize faces and things, learn to walk, run, become potty trained and understand social cues. These physical and thinking skills are necessary to survive independently. It is the beginning stage of a human becoming independent.

This period of learning in the past was not done in a sterile daycare environment. It was part of normal interaction between family members. This learning was spontaneously done by observation and mimicking siblings and adults.

In primitive societies things were clearly marked out for the child to learn. Even his occupation was passed down in families from parent to child in an apprentice format. Today the choices for a person’s education are nearly endless.

In modern times teaching has been put in the hands of people other than parents. In the recent past, these professional educators have been delegated the power under the state to decide what and how learning should take place.

Recently the federal government, in conjunction with various states, is once again in the process of accepting new standards, practices and procedures: this time under the “Common Core Curriculum.” This approach will proscribe the time and way lessons will be taught. This will constrict the freedom of students to develop their unique style of learning.

The natural urge to investigate things to learn has been transferred from the individual and given to the state and educational bureaucrats. This formal hijacking of learning has robbed many children of their motivation to learn. We are witnessing many bright young people rejecting formal education. These students are careless about their studies because they do not care to please their impersonal teacher or learn what others tell them to learn.

Many of these turned-off students however, are staying up to all hours of the night learning computer games, social networking and/or texting their friends while ignoring their school studies. These gaming and social activities satisfy the need to do and accomplish in their world.

This artificial separation of the individual’s inner motivation to learn to an educational system dictating what to learn is harming our young people’s development. They are not learning the every-day lessons that life challenges provide them. Instead they are isolating themselves in an adolescent culture where they exhaust their energies doing things to establish relationships and pursue their own interests.

Children are being held captives of the state educational system until 16 years old. They feel purposeless in an impersonal environment that rarely meets their needs. They are not free to choose the work force to learn new knowledge in a viable trade. There are few apprentice options to gain knowledge from a master to become a productive employee.

Individualized learning for each student can recapture a person’s inner urge to learn. As the student progresses weaving his way through his own program, his enthusiasm for learning will eventually increase.

Our educational system should encourage the student to become an independent learner, not be crushed by a one-size-fits-all approach to formal learning.

No two people learn in the same manner, but most want to be competent in as many areas as possible. The more things we know how to do well, the more power we have to be successful.


Dr. Maglio is an author and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at www.drmaglio.blogspot.com.

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