Thursday, February 22, 2007

Education problems - is there a silver bullet?

(This blog forms part of a series. Please check the previous entries on how to use computers wisely, how much time in front of the computer is healthy, what is better: the library or the Internet, what are the education problems of today.)

The solutions to education problems are aplenty, at least in theory. Almost everybody has their favourite (please add a comment at the bottom of this blog if we’ve omitted yours):
· Smaller classes (i.e., a better teacher-child ratio) - you can find a good argument here:
· More technology
· Less technology
· A radically different education approach (like Montessori or Rudolf Steiner)
· Stricter discipline
· Nutritious breakfast
· Better teacher
· Better paid teachers
· More passion
· More money
· ... And many others.

But is there a silver bullet? I believe that the answer is yes, to an extent. Every student is unique, every situation different. By finding out exactly what a student needs in his or her learning environment - also known as Learning Style Analysis ( - and then catering to those needs, we create a student who is more receptive to learning and less inclined to be disruptive (or even self-destructive).

Example 1:
Mary dislikes bright lights, thus she will become hyperactive, stressed and undisciplined in a room with fluorescent lighting (such as many classrooms have). However, Jake who likes bright lights will feel lethargic and sleepy in a room that’s dimly lit. Catering to their unique learning needs by creating brighter and darker areas in the classroom would make these students perform better at school.

Example 2:
Emily has a non-preference for external motivation (to find out more about this need, please look at This means that the traditional carrot-and-stick approach so often used by teachers and parents alike doesn’t work on her. Offering her a treat for doing her homework will only irritate her, while withholding privileges for not doing the homework might make her rebellious is she also has a non-preference for conformity. To encourage Emily to do her homework, you must appeal to her inner sense of motivation, in other words, you must make her want to do homework for her own sake.

For more information on this topic, please do not hesitate to drop a comment or an email to yvonne at

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