Like good business professors, the authors begin this chapter with a case: The school’s star forward is struggling in chemistry class, while others around him seem to get it. His teacher, unable to cater to the needs of every student, attempts triage by presenting the material as best he can so that most students will pass; unfortunately, not every student will catch on. At home, the struggling soccer player’s father teachers the material in a new way, and this time it clicks. This case illustrates the main ideas of this chapter: Schools have a hard time customizing learning for each student, even though we all know intuitively that people learn differently.
To discuss how people “learn differently,” the authors draw on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, although they admit that there is some debate in the field of education about this and similar ideas. So while they don’t necessarily have a stake in whether or not this is the best theory for explaining differences in learning, they consider it a useful lens. Recognizing that people have different intelligences, different learning styles (which might change with the content being learning), different paces of learning, and different starting places for learning, it is obvious that we cannot possibly teach every student effectively in exactly the same way. When we should customize, we standardize. Why? Continue reading “Disrupting Class: Chapter 1: Why Schools Struggle to Teach Differently When Each Student Learns Differently”