I was inspired to write this piece by coming across the story of Anne Dolan on Change.org.
She’s a successful entrepreneur from Bath, the CEO of AquaGlass, which makes stained glass products. She describes herself as ‘completely dyslexic’ and says that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there who start their business because they leave school with no exams under their belt.
Her mission on Change.org is to change the way dyslexic kids are taught in schools, to help prevent their self-worth getting stomped on, and better prepare them for life ahead.
As a father of three, and primarily an educator myself – albeit in a very informal way, where the only ‘final exam’ is essentially your bottom line, your cortisol levels and your capacity to spend time with your family – education is a subject close to my heart.
I strongly believe in tailoring learning to the situation – that’s my bread and butter.
Anne suggests that the Steiner Schools are a good model, where rather than being told to concentrate quietly, kids are encouraged to join in conversations, learning in a multi-sensory way through drama, drawing and playground games. Apparently Steiner kids learn their times tables in the playground, by playing specially structured ball games. Instead of learning to write in an exercise book, they practice their ABCs in a sandpit.
This is wonderful. This fun approach has tremendous record with dyslexic kids, and I’ll stick my neck out and say that shifting lessons in this direction could probably benefit all kids.
Because it’s not boring. It makes a game of it. Makes it 100% relevant to the audience.
How many times have your kids come home and told you school was BORING?
I know, right? Quite a few.
As I said, I believe in tailored learning, but for me, it’s not about those fabled learning styles you can see so many infographics about – which many learned people think are poppycock anyway. Anyone who reads Scientific American knows there’s no such thing as left/right brain processes anyway… it’s way more complex than that).
Learning should be being vital and lively, and I’ll say it again, immediately relevant to the audience. Kids love sandpits. So teach ‘em stuff in a sandpit! Entrepreneurs want to know stuff that cures their own business problems…they don’t want an MBA, they want answers.
Whether there are different learning styles is up for debate, but there are definitely different teaching styles: Visual, verbal, physical, musical, logical, social and solitary – apart from the last two, why should they be mutually exclusive?
They should all be mixed up into one varied and fun package, because our kids telling us school is boring should be a big red flag. Learning something new is intrinsically fun. Learning is up there with the very best bits of being human. Love. Learning. Laughter. They’re the main things in life….and they should be accessible to everyone.
I wish Anne Dolan all the luck in the world with her quest. I really hope the school system sits up and takes notice. You can sign her petition here.
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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/58447230@N00/2560647204″>Lenny At Chichester-28</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>