Thursday, July 19, 2007

Too Hungry to Learn

I’ve just heard a heart-warming story about solving an education problem in India. While the government is pouring money into textbooks and school buildings, a non-government organisation discovered that children don’t go to school because they are too hungry to concentrate. So the NGO built kitchens that would supply food to the schools. Now, because school was the only place where they could get food, children started attending - and because their bellies were full, they could benefit from the lessons, too.

And, closer to home, in New Zealand, smart-looking raincoats are given to children who can’t afford them. Not only do they keep the children dry, they boost their self-confidence and improve school attendance.

I wonder how many education problems could be solved by thinking outside the square like that.

Next time you encounter a child who has learning problems, think:
· Are their basic survival needs met (food, warmth, personal safety)?
· Are their higher survival needs met (friendship, parental love, feeling valued, feeling capable, feeling stimulated)?
· Are their learning style needs met (learning with their preferred senses, learning at their biologically dictated time of day, learning sequentially or holistically, learning in their preferred social grouping)? To find out more about learning styles, please visit

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