Stop Committing Children to Virtual Wheelchairs – by Roger Stark

For the first time since 2003, 4th graders failed to make any progress in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  Why improvement before and none since?  The push with NCLB (No Child Left Behind) raised the concept of accountability, measuring and providing consequences for not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress.  What this suggests to me is that simply paying attention drives some progress (low hanging fruit) but what’s been going on in education hasn’t gotten at the root cause of our most challenging populations. 

Imagine an athlete on the field who breaks a leg.  Not a coach alive would admonish the player and demand that they get up and run down the field.  The coach, the trainer, the doctors, the parents gather around and figure out how to mend that broken leg and to rehabilitate it to the point where the athlete can perform as before, or better. 

Our classrooms are filled with athletes with broken legs. 

People are shaped by their genetics, environment and their experiences.  Students come to our classrooms without the basic skills – not reading and math – but attention, working memory, auditory sequential processing, visualization – the underlying cognitive skills to succeed. 

When a child doesn’t pay attention, we assume they’re unwilling or lazy.  We yell at them to get up and run.  But who can run with a broken leg?  We have to stop sending children to school with broken legs and failing to do anything to repair and rehabilitate them.

If we don’t change our approach, we are committing our children to virtual wheelchairs for the rest of their lives.

Please share your ideas on how to recognize and help students who can’t “get up and run.”


2 Responses to Stop Committing Children to Virtual Wheelchairs – by Roger Stark

  1. Colleen Bain says:

    Mr. Stark,

    I am very passionate about my education work with children and families. I work with many parents who have had to take on the burden of strengthening their child’s ability to learn. When I communicate with the child’s teachers and school principal, the knowledge about cognitive skills and how they relate to learning sometimes is not prevalent.

    Most teachers learn about Bloom’s Taxonomy and Gardner’s Theory of Intelligences. I believe that for a teacher to be successful via a Bloom’s or Gardner’s approach, the children in the classroom need strong cognitive skills to begin this journey and succeed.
    Students must be able to analyze, comprehend, evaluate, apply and so on to work their way through Bloom’s. If they do not have the cognitive ability to do so, they will not be successful and the teacher will not show success for Bloom’s.

    The same applies to Gardner’s Theory of Intelligences. There are students who may not show success in any area of visual-spatial, logical, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic or tactile if their cognitive skill set is weak. We use whole brain all the time. If one skill is weak, our learning ability is weakened.

    On the other hand, trying to reach a child where they are strong has been the basis for many schools. If a child is unable to progress on his or her own, teachers are taught how to help the child compensate through their strengths.

    Although compensatory teaching is not a bad thing, it may limit the student’s ability to reach full potential. Long-term consequences may result and show themselves in limited career and employment opportunities down the road.

    You make relevant and important points about the need for schools to wake up and recognize the important role that neuroplasticity and brain training will play in the classroom. There is no need for a child to struggle to learn anymore. Research has even found proven methods to help a child with Dyslexia learn to read!

    While schools can easily fit a computer program like BrainWare Safari into the schedule as the student’s 12 week special. This small investment will reap huge rewards for both the schools and the students – they will really be changing the lives of students – which will impact the students choices – it is a chain reaction for good.

    I support your efforts in trying to shift our education paradigm. I can only hope the shift occurs sooner than later.

    Kindest Regards,
    Colleen Bain, M.A.
    Special and General Educator in NJ
    Licensed Cognitive Brain Trainer
    Creator of The Student Transformation System

  2. […] classrooms are filled with athletes with broken legs.   Read More Now Share Articles, BrainWare for Schools, ELS4KIDS Brain Blog ADHD, Attention, Brain […]

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