Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
I have always believed that every school must practise, ‘mainstream inclusion’.
This means that students, with different strengths and needs, enjoy the benefit of learning together within a mainstream classroom.
This is easier said than done, requiring enormously skilled teaching professionals, and every school must have this ethos at its core; it must be their model.
Before we consider strengths and needs, let’s examine the foundation stone of assessing cognitive ability. This governs, to a great extent, aptitude (ability and ease) in acquiring and synthesizing information.
IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, is measured by Clinical or Educational Psychologists through a battery of Assessments only these professions are qualified to use.
Sixty-eight per cent of the population fall within the normal range of IQ scores from 5 to 115. 14 per cent of the population each fall within the ‘low normal and high-normal ranges.
We recognise that students with a functional IQ of under 70 or above 130 have two distinct types of ‘special needs.
The children with <70 will generally find learning across the board, quite challenging and disconnected. The children, who are ‘gifted, with an IQ of >130 may find the curriculum simplistic and irrelevant.
Now envisage a classroom of 20-30 students, with IQs ranging from 65 to 140, especially within the context of a larger private school. How can the teacher accommodate ‘mainstream inclusion’? We know that most parents want their children in mainstream learning with peers their own age. While students are not permitted to jump ahead a year, some are ‘kept down’. Issue No. 1.
Most teachers will teach to the ‘normal range’ (IQs between 85 and 115). Without considerable differentiation within the classroom, intervention by specialist teachers continued professional development, and incredibly robust academic and attainment planning, many children will ‘zone out’ from over or under-stimulation. Issue No. 2.
Then, let’s factor into a mainstream classroom: EQ (Emotional Quotient), SQ (Social Quotient), and PQ (Positive Quotient). Issues Nos. 3 through 5.
Regardless of IQ, students have varying EQs, or Emotional Intelligence, manifesting within the classroom.
This is “the ability to understand, use, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.
It can also help to connect with feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you.”
https://www.helpguide. org/articles/mental-health/emotionalintelligence-eq.htm SQ, or Social Intelligence, “is the ability of a person to tune into other people’s emotions and read the subtle behavioural cues to choose the most effective response in a given situation.”
There seems to be a widely accepted view that SQ will be the Intelligence most needed in future careers. https://www. socialigence.net/blog/difference-betweeniq-eq-and-sq-the-social-intelligence-andwhy- sq-is-the-future/ Finally, PQ, or Positive Intelligence, is believed to matter even more. Shirzad Chamine describes PQ as: “the percentage of time your mind is serving you as opposed to sabotaging you, simply exhausting your mental resources without any redeeming value.
On one side of this battlefield are the well-disguised Saboteurs, who wreck any attempt at increasing either happiness or performance. On the other side is the Sage, who has access to wisdom, insights, and often untapped mental powers.
The Saboteurs and Sage are fuelled by different regions of the brain. We are literally of two minds and two brains.”
As you can deduce, high PQ results in lower anxiety and less stress (as in exam preparation). https://www. positiveintelligence.com/why-pq-mattersmore-than-iq-and-eq/ So, in a word, what every teacher faces, is a classroom filled with Neurodiversity.
Coined in 1998 by Sociologist, Judy Singer, it “refers to variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions.”
Enter Neurodiversity within ‘mainstream inclusion’: “The social model rejects the notion that an individual must be “normal” to enjoy the full range of human experience, arguing that an impairment should not constitute a barrier to inclusion or access.” https://www. learningdisabilitytoday.co.uk/a- beginnersguide-to-neurodiversity This is where Learning Disabilities (abhorrent word) enter the classroom: Dyslexia, CAPD, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, NVLD, AD(H)D, Autism, etc.
All brains are wired differently, but shouldn’t each child have the opportunity and support required to access individual potential, through utilising the strength of their specific neurodiversity? There must, therefore, be accessibility for different brains.
As ‘disabilities’ are invisible, about 15 per cent of any school’s population, gets ‘left behind’, consigned to a disparaging label, and in some cases, punished for what they cannot do well.
Case in point is the student who writes in large, disjointed, poorly-formed letters or the student who cannot spell.
They may be given lines to write – even in 2021. The student who cannot sit still and disrupts the learning of others is often excluded from the classroom and sent to the principal.
How can the student with poor visual tracking copy note accurately from aboard? How can the student with poor auditory memory be expected to write dictated notes? My questions are: if we know the science behind IQ, EQ, SQ, and PQ, why are we not adapting our educational system to meet student neurodiversity? It is easy to blame a failure in learning, but are we actually failing in our teaching practice? And finally, when are we going to accept that schools are not setting up students for success?
Julia Hanschell can be contacted on smartstudying @gmail.com.