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Many times, teachers face great challenges impacting knowledge not because they are not knowledgeable about the subject matter or effective teaching methods. But because they are not familiar with the individual differences of their learners or better still they ignore it, thinking that it will hinder the quick coverage of the syllabus. This essay will expose teachers to the importance of individual differences. Most importantly, it will teach them the effective ways of using this technique to achieve learning objectives.
What is teaching?
Teaching is a term that is broader than what a layman thinks. It could be difficult to define, if all the technical terms involved in teaching are considered. But for the purpose of this essay that intends to stress the importance of individualized instruction in teaching and learning of children. And more importantly, to explain in the simplest possible terms how to inculcate its principle in the teaching of children. Thus, teaching is the act of imparting knowledge and skills in an individual. It is a process of disseminating useful information to an individual or a group of individuals. It could be seen as inculcating the right thing (subject matter) at the right time (time of teaching) using the right method (method of teaching) in the right learners (children pupils, students, adults etc).
Teaching is positively affecting the three domains of knowledge—cognitive, affective and psychomotor through organized instructions. Teaching is harnessing resources (time, teaching aids, technical know how of the teacher etc) to achieve a set of teaching objectives that are useful to the learner and the society as a whole.
What is learning?
Learning is the permanent change in behaviour of a learner as a result of experience. Learning is experiential and measurable, as it involves the participation of the learner(s). Learning that takes place in an organized environment through the conscious effort of a teacher is referred to as conscious leaning. Unconscious learning takes place when an individual learns things by interacting with his environment (i.e. playing with learning materials, or touching a sharp object or fire or through other experiential activities without the conscious effort of a teacher). Thus, learning can take place without a teacher.
Mathematically speaking, learning can be seen as the difference between the behavioral pattern of a learner before an experiential activity (lesson, excursion, moral training, physical exercise, etc) and after the experiential activity.
What is individual instruction?
Individualized instruction is a method that involves teaching learners individually according to their mental and behavioral make up. Individualized instruction is something every teacher that considers the interest of all his learners a priority should practice.
The bottom line is that individualize instruction takes into consideration the individual differences of the learners and the teaching is according to the ability of the learners.
Individual Teaching and Individualized Instruction
These two technical terms seem difficult to distinguish. Nevertheless, there is a remarkable difference between the duo. Individual teaching is a method on its own it is adopted in all correspondence courses in which a learner does not have direct contact with teacher.
Information communication technology is changing the face of individual teaching as internet is used for distance learning system. It guides students on steps to follow to acquaint themselves with the subject maters. It allows learners to learn at their on pace. In classroom setting, it is used mostly in assessing the learner, each time a child is given an essay or an arithmetic problems, the work is assessed and criticized by the teacher individually. But the doctrine of individualized instruction is asking a teacher to inculcate it in all his teaching activities and methods. Whether he uses, assignment method, play-way method, project method etc. or activities such assignments evaluation, questioning, discipline, reinforcement and motivation in the class.
How does a teacher practice individualized instruction?
Individualized instruction is a technique not a teaching method—just like the teaching techniques of moving from simple to complex, known to unknown and tangible to abstract. Therefore, for effective teaching to take place, it must be used efficiently and effectively in a classroom setting.
The prerequisites for effective and efficient use of individualized instruction are:
- Identifying the individual differences of the pupils or children.
- Tailoring your teaching to suit the differences.
A skilled teacher or author from dissertation editing services should identify the individual differences of his children not only through child psychology but by studying the children and applying his book knowledge to group his children. Though the purpose of his write-up is not child study or child psychology but mention would have to be made of this branch of education to enhance effective identification of individual differences in children.
Children show differences in physique such as height, weight, completion, colour of hair eyes, shape of head, ear, etc. These differences, unimportant as they seem should be given much consideration in psychomotor domain training. Therefore, physical development should be given appropriate consideration when children go to the field for physical education. Jumping, running, footballing and other sporting activities depend solely on the strength of the child and his manipulative skills.
In classroom management, children should be arranged according to their height to ensure adequate viewing of the chalkboard, screen and teaching aids. The visual and hearing ability of pupils must be considered in the use of audio visual instruments or aids, the physical handicap such short sightedness, long sightedness, hearing impediment, speech impediments, etc. A teacher should move closer to a pupil with hearing and speech impediments when asking questions a pupil with severe speech impediment should not be asked verbal questions as this will expose his weakness and makes him an object of ridicule. He should be asked to touch something or write something on the chalkboard when he asks questions, the teacher should move closer to him.
Children show remarkable differences in their ability to achieve learning objectives. In this regard, we have pupils of intellectual superiority—the ability to out think another person of his age. This superiority may be general or specific. That is, he may be good in memorization or writing or calculation. He may good in all subjects. This is rare in children as it occurs as a result of a rare combination of genes. Most children without any physical handicap fall in the category of average children whose mental ability does not fall below or above normal. The dull children are children with inferior mental ability compared to children of their age. This set of children post serious problem to the teacher.
Intelligent quotient is the measure of ratio of mental age to chronological age expressed as parentage.
A Child Between 80 Percent to 120 Percent—Average
- Less 80—Dull
- Above 160—Genius
Children that do not post much difficulty when teaching are those ones with normal intelligent quotient and most children fall in this category. Even geniuses gives teachers a lot of difficulties if not handled skillfully. This is because their mental ability is greater than that of his mates, he finishes test before anybody, he understands the subject matters before the teacher finishes teaching.
He could be restless and disturbing the teaches should give him more challenging work. And if double promoted, consideration should be given to his emotional with chronological age. Though he will cope academically in the new class, his emotional maturity as expressed in his behaviour may not be comparable to his new mates.
The dullards are more difficult to teach than the genius because they have a mental age lesser than their chronological age. They cannot read what a pupil of their age under the same environmental condition, can read they cannot solve a mathematical problem that he can solve, they cannot understand the analogy that he can understand.
The three perquisites for learning are readiness, motivation and activity of learning. They can be used to help children. Firstly, dull children are usually demotivated due to their underachievement. Classmates and unskilled teachers also contribute to the feeling of worthlessness by the pupil. They are often made an object of ridicule by their mates. A good teach should boost their self-esteem and motivate them to learn by making his lesson interesting to them and at their interest.
Activity: I suggest the use of Montessori system of teaching which has been proven to be effective for the teaching of below average pupils. It involves the use of carefully designed playthings (learning materials). The learners are allowed to interact with these materials though this system is more applicable in nursery. But with carefully designed learning materials dull pupils in higher classes can be helped. It is advisable that the teachers should consider the dullards when choosing his teaching aids. Average pupils may achieve teaching objectives with images and pictures, but dullard might need the real objects to understand them. Whether a teacher is teaching an average or dull child, he must allow the child to participate in his course of learning.
This becomes very important when a teacher is dealing with below average pupils. The pupils activities (listening asking and answering questions, thinking and mediating, drawing, dancing, reciting, singing, experimenting, observing the teaching aids doing exercises etc) are of utmost important. I do not know how to emphasis this better.
Inculcating the technique of individualized instruction demands that teachers should be able to diagnose and prescribe solution to the academic or emotional problem of his pupils. Some pupils are mentally normal yet they are backward. Backwardness is relative term referring to standard of attainment which is as a result of environmental factors such as, bad teaching, frequent changes of staff, absence for a long time, emotional stress etc. Backwardness is usually specific in one or two areas, but when it is general the pupil is likely to be a dull child. The teacher also needs to give a special attention to any pupils in this category.
Emotional or Personality Differences
This essay will not be complete if I do not mention temperamental differences in children as this affects their learning ability in the classroom. Temperamental problems make teachers—even the experienced ones—wonder while pupil A or B is difficult to relate with. There are various ways of classifying temperament. But I will not go into the details of this classification because it is not the focuses of this essay. Bad temperaments post serious problem in the class. Therefore, for a teacher to be successful, he must realize that pupils show remarkable differences in their temperaments. So, teacher should develop techniques to deal with each temperament. However bad temperaments are not the major cause of bad behavior, others are: parenting style, reaction to stress and uncertainly, the pursuit of attention and power.
According to Dr. Christopher Green, in his book Beyond Todderdom, bad temperaments that cause pains to parents and teacher are oppositional, demanding and explosive. Mostly emotional differences in children are the result of genetic composition and the three environmental factors mentioned above. Children are also classified into introverts and extroverts though, in the real life they are not group with clear cut lines of demarcation, but we have modest introverts and extroverts. The extreme cases of these personalities can post serious problem not only to the teacher but the society as a whole. The following table shows the behavioral types and suggestions to teachers.
It is also advisable, that teachers use democratic style of relationship rather than authoritarian or laissez-faire style in dealing with pupils whether they have good or bad manners. The rules in the classroom should be followed without confrontation, hostility or smacking. There must be clear communication and understanding of the rules and the temperamental differences of all the pupils must be put into consideration.
Children show remarkable differences in physique, temperament and intelligence, for a teacher to be successful he must inculcate the principles of individualized instruction when teaching and relating with his pupils.