The longer I've been an educator the more I've learned about the pedagogical 'wars' - the how and what teachers should be expected to teach. Unfortunately students are often the 'casualties' of these wars as debate 'soldiers' on! (Pardon my puns!)
Maybe the question should NOT be whether teachers should use this particular pedagogy or follow this particular teaching philosophy but the question should be: "What does this child need?"
I think an exploration into how doctors treat patients may help us.
Maybe the analogy doesn't always hold up but consider the following:
Doctors need to KNOW their patient and KNOW their treatment options
Doctors need to KNOW their patient through conversations, appropriate tests, and careful analysis of test results. They need to stay up to date with the latest research and to recommend the most effective treatment for the patient.
After applying a particular treatment they also need to reassess whether it is working. Is it improving the patient's health in a timely manner? They may need to abandon a particular treatment, modify it or intensify the dosage or frequency of the treatment to ensure an improvement in patient health.
We want our doctors to use treatments that are proven effective. Even if a patient is difficult to diagnose or unresponsive to a particular treatment we don't want them to 'give up'. Nor do we want them to be satisfied with minimal improvement, especially if significant improvement is possible... We want them to keep looking for a solution, to seek help from specialists if necessary but never to 'give up'.
We expect our doctors to be professional, thorough and diligent in their duty regardless of a patient's background, personality or even willingness to cooperate. Doctors are under a Hippocratic oath to provide medical care for all in need.
Teachers need to KNOW their students and KNOW their program options.
Teachers need to KNOW each student through conversations, appropriate tests, and careful analysis of test results. They need to stay up to date with the latest research and to recommend the most effective evidence-based program for their students.
After administering a particular program they also need to reassess whether it is working. Is each student making progress in a timely manner? Teachers may need to abandon a particular program, modify it or intensify the frequency of delivery of the program to ensure an improvement in each student's outcomes. This is the theory behind the Response to Intervention (RTI) model.
Our students need teachers to use programs that are proven effective. Even if a student is difficult to diagnose or unresponsive to a particular program we don't want teachers to 'give up'. Nor do we want them to be satisfied with minimal improvement, especially if significant improvement is possible. We want them to keep looking for a solution, to seek help from specialists educators or even medical specialists if necessary ...but never to 'give up'.
We expect our teachers to be professional, thorough and diligent in their duty regardless of a student's background, personality or even willingness to cooperate.
Maybe our teacher graduation ceremonies could have an oath similar to the
Here’s what it may look like …
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those teachers
and educational researchers in whose steps I walk,
and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the students I teach,
all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and pessimism.
I will remember that there is art to education as well
as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh any particular
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,”
nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a students’
I will respect the privacy of my students,
for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know.
Most especially must I tread with care in matters of their education.
It is given me to educate them all .
I will remember that I do not teach just a subject, but a human being,
whose education may affect their future health and finances.
I will prevent difficulties whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
My wish is that a truce is called in pedagogical wars and that students become the winners of the amnesty!
Call to Action
I’m doing what I can to help ALL students and to prevent difficulties (casualties!) particularly in the area of Maths teaching and learning, by working with educators in the ‘front line’… ie. primary teachers.
I’m trying to stay out of the ‘wars’ . I want to help teachers get started on practices that have proven highly effective and to help them find ways to identify who is making progress and who isn’t..?
If you need help with ‘treatments’ and you don’t want any student to be a ‘casualty of war’ feel free to contact me through Lynz Education and see what assistance is available. Lynelle Campbell
Director | Education Consultant Lynz Education.