Special needs educator Cheryl Rock is suggesting a revolutionary approach to teaching with students driving their own learning.
Rock, principal of the Derrick Smith School and Vocational Centre that caters to children and adults with special needs, said rapid technological advancements had rendered the traditional form of teaching redundant.
In an address yesterday to the annual general meeting of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, she advised that in order to prepare today’s students for the world they would face as adults, it was necessary to abandon the traditional education system for a more modern system.
“The children we are teaching today, we’re teaching them for jobs that have not yet been invented. So what do we teach? Can we teach Geography and History? What kind of English and Maths are we supposed to teach that Google can’t give them?
“A lot of children know a lot more than us [teachers]. We have to change what we are doing and how we are doing things because the children that we are teaching are completely different. Tradition and traditional education cannot work,” she told those gathered at the Dalkeith headquarters of the National Union of Public Workers for the meeting.
Speaking on Special Needs Education, Rock stressed the individuality of students and unique challenges that each one faced.
As a result, she suggested, each student must be dealt with as an individual.
“The only way that can occur in a classroom is be getting rid of traditional education, and it is something I believe very strongly in. I think that children should drive their own learning [and] the only way you can do that is by looking at youngsters as individuals”.
Rock said it was the norm for educators to “teach to the middle and up” with a view to having students average 50 per cent or better in the chosen subjects.
She also argued that the traditional manner of teaching did not unearth talents of many children.
“We want those bright students, we want the students that up our percentages, but when you do that you miss out on . . . the ones who think differently, the talented who think differently, experience life differently, see things in a different way,” she said.