Nature's Lessons on Classroom Diversity, Part 4

Best Practices October 31, 2022

Adjusting techniques to needs

Just as different plants need different nutrients and gardening techniques, different learners have different ways of learning and thrive under different learning techniques. Armstrong points out that Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, which shows the many different ways that students learn, also shows teachers the importance of promoting student-centered learning in the classroom. Traditional teacher-centered methods such as lectures can be easier for the teacher, but often fail to meet the diverse needs of students.

Realizing the uniqueness of each learner, we should strive to expand our range of teaching methods, incorporating many student-centered methods to cater for the diversity of learners in the classroom. Yaumi notes that such methods may include the Socratic method, role play, inquiry, and quiz-based learning.

Appreciating the benefits of diversity

It is easy to see the diverse needs and characteristics of our students as a problem, and while they do require adjustments from us as teachers, they also bring many good things to our classroom. Each of the fruits and vegetables in a garden supplies important nutrients vital to the development of a healthy body. Some are grown just for leaves, some for their roots, some for seeds, and others for their fruit, and all of them enrich our lives through their nutrients and flavor. In their diversity, they are all of great value and should be appreciated. Similarly, our classroom and our students benefit when we appreciate the special qualities of all of our students.

Conclusion

In conclusion, educators can learn much from the garden about diversity. We should appreciate and proactively adjust for the diversity of our students’ learning styles and pace so that we can optimize learning for all students and aim to leave no one behind. Studies indicate that a multi-modal approach of combining two or three teaching methods in one lesson may prove beneficial for more learners as this might appeal to several students’ dominant intelligences and needs. We should also treat our students with the patience and gentleness that gardeners bring to caring for their plants. As Ellen White said, 

Ask the gardener by what process he makes every branch and leaf to flourish so beautifully, and to develop in symmetry and loveliness. He will tell you that it was by no rude touch, no violent effort; for this would only break the delicate stems. It was by little attentions, often repeated…. In dealing with your children, follow the method of the gardener. By gentle touches, by loving ministrations, seek to fashion their characters after the pattern of the character of Christ.

Author

Constance Chifamba is a lecturer at Solusi University, Harare Campus. She has worked as a High School Science teacher. Currently is a Chairperson in the Education Department (Faculty of Education), Solusi University. She enjoys reading and gardening.

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