A man bought 100 acres in good farmland and planned to start a ranch. He went out and bought sheep, and cows and horses and dogs and pigs and chickens. He bought a giant round bale of hay and a massive self feeder, and set it in the middle of all the animals. Then he sat back and waited for the money to roll in.
As he watched, he noticed the dogs and chickens turned up their nose at the hay and feed, and were almost trampled by the larger animals who paid them no mind. The cows and pigs began to wander off after a bit, but the sheep and horses kept eating and eating. And eating. And eating.
A kindly older rancher strolled up and asked the man what he thought he was doing. "I'm making a ranch," he said with pride and confidence.
The older man chuckled and shook his head. "Nope," he said, "You are going to see those sheep and horses overeat. See, they will eat until they die. There is just not turning off that hunger drive for them. You have to parcel out their food so they don't take on too much."
The new rancher thought on this as the older rancher went on. " Now, you also need to realize you cannot just feed every animal the same kind of food, either. Dogs won't eat the hay, chickens will lay eggs in it that trampled, if they don't get trampled themselves. You have to put the animals in a place for them to be safe so they can thrive. Cows and pigs are pretty self sufficient, but horses and sheep need a lot of attention. Chickens are fragile and easy pray for predators, Dogs are great protectors, but sometimes they can be a little dangerous. Pigs like to get dirty, and that's ok, but if a sheep gets that wool really dirty, it can be bad."
The old rancher looked out at the horizon, and pointed to a pond and a tree next to it. "You need to provide space for each of the groups of animals, space that is specific for them. The chickens need safe space, the sheep and horses need structure and boundaries, the cows need space. They all need some shelter, a place to get out of the weather. And the dogs need to be praised, or they won't know the right way to behave."
The new rancher soaked in this knowledge, then set out to create the types of habitats and feeding methods that would make his ranch thrive.
Moral: Students are all very unique and different. Some need little oversight to survive and thrive. Others need constant vigilance. Some students are like sheep and horses and will gorge on knowledge, sitting and getting all they can, and never connect with others and build relationships because they get so caught up in getting the right answers and the best scores. Some students are fragile, easily hurt like the chickens, and you must protect them. Some students are messy and disorganized and that's ok, like the pigs, but others will get in trouble without some help keeping things together. Some students are protectors like the dogs, but their protection can turn to bossy-ness, or controlling to the point of bullying. For them, they need to be praised so they know they are doing the right thing. Even though every student needs to learn the same content- all the animals need to eat- they do not learn that content the same way- not all the animals want hay or grain pellets. The teacher must be like the older rancher, and recognize the needs of each student, and as much as possible, provide a habitat and a "food source" that lets them thrive and grow.
Education cannot be one size fits all. And we cannot treat all students as if they were all cows or all horses.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.