Monday, March 12, 2012

Einstein's Definition of Insanity

Einstein's definition of insanity is one of my all time favorite quotes. He says simply: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

How many times, as teachers or parents, do we do the same thing we have always done and end up with the same conflict, problem or lack of learning on the child's part. I agree with Einstein. That's insane.

We are the adults who are in the lead role. It's up to us to change something first. If I continue doing everything exactly as I have done it before, shouldn't expect the same thing that happened before to happen again? And yet, what happens? The child typically gets blamed. We say things like "You need to listen harder." (quote from Rick Lavoie and FAT City). Seriously?? Listen harder? How do you do that? Or we say you're lazy or just not trying. Or we say you need to apply yourself.

I think Einstein's quote on insanity speaks to one of my favorite aspects of teaching students with special needs. The kids can, in fact, learn. We have centuries of data to prove that going all the way back to Itard, Seguin and Montessori.

It's up to me to figure out what to change.

Perhaps I change the way the material is presented. Some children can learn complex concepts with the support of visual cues or kinesthetic modes of processing the information. Perhaps I change how the student has to respond. Perhaps instead of writing his/her response, I have them orally tell it. Perhaps I change the way the student is engaged.

I find Einstein's quote to be a challenge for me to figure how to help the students in my class learn the skills and concepts they need to learn.