Response to Nel Nodding’s Article – Learning from our Students

This article presents some interesting arguments for the future of the school system and student requirements.  Noddings claims that, “[w]hat we learn from students should induce us to reflect on all we do and all we are asked to do” (para 2).  This is an essential point for educators to understand.  This means that what worked best for us as students may not work best for every student.  It also means that reflection is very crucial for teachers.  As teachers, we need to be able to assess the work we have done, evaluate whether it met the needs of all of the students, and modify our ways of teaching for the future.  I agree with the point Nodding makes about teaching to the aptitudes of our students to meet their needs, but I struggle with understanding how a teacher accomplishes this when there time restraints and a mandated curriculum to cover.

The article also addresses the issue that most teachers had a positive experience throughout school.  This is important to recognize, because teachers need to understand that students come from different backgrounds and have different learning styles. One idea that resonated with me is that putting more effort in is not simply the answer for all students to do better.  I was naïve by thinking that if a kid is not meeting the requirements or what is expected of them, it is because they need to put more effort into their work.  Although this might be the case for some students, I think it can be misleading.  Certain students may simply not acquire the skills to be able to answer a certain question and may need their lesson adapted. This leads to the subject of minimal courses.

I support the fact that students have different aptitudes for learning.  Some are mathematically inclined, others are kinesthetically inclined, so on and so forth.  For this reason, minimal courses are making its way into the current schooling system.  I recognize this in the current mathematics curriculum at the secondary level where students choose which strand of math best suits their needs. However, I struggle with some of the points made in this article for the same fact that concerns a majority of parents: how do students know what occupation they want to pursue?  If students are not required to study the same material, how will this change the future of post-secondary education? What happens if a student does not study a particular subject area in secondary school and then five years down the road, realizes they need that course for their occupation?  All of these questions lead me to question the transition of minimal courses into the school system.  It also has me question the idea of whether grades should be based on a percentage or pass/fail criteria.  I can understand arguments for both sides and cannot settle on an answer.  I am interested to learn more about this topic to be able to form an educated decision.

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