articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning

Many Pathways of Learning

Every child is special, with unique combinations of abilities and needs that affect learning. And all children deserve the opportunity to learn in ways that make the most of their strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses.

One child may see . . .

Even a young child with a gift for visual thinking might draw pictures well, and use line, shape, and colour to communicate ideas. Drawing, painting, diagramming, mapping might be the ways that this child expresses herself best. Showing her pictures or charts may be a good way to help her learn.

One child may dance. . .

Some children (and adults) learn by moving. Such a child might learn dance steps in a few seconds, or express himself as a mimic or clown. This child might learn about the solar system, for example, by moving through a "planet dance."

By inventing many different ways to explore a subject and many ways to express themselves, we give all children in a class the chance to learn.

One child may face a special obstacle. . .

A child might have an injury that keeps him from holding chalk or a pencil. Another might have poor hearing that keeps her from participating in class, or even from saying words properly.

As teachers, we can take notice of students who face special challenges, and find ways to help them. We can use our creativity to make our classes vital and filled with opportunities for all learners.

The uniqueness of each child

(Information in this section is based on the Philippines' Multigrade Teacher's Handbook)

Every child is an individual, with special social, emotional, intellectual, and physical qualities.

Children are unique. They are individuals and no two children are alike: physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually, each child is a unique individual. Because children are unique, even if there are common needs and characteristics that children of a particular age or stage of development share, they must be understood by their parents and teachers in their uniqueness, and their individuality must be respected.

For example, even in a single-grade classroom composed of 45 to 50 seven-year-olds, not all of the seven-year-olds will be reading at precisely the same ability level. They will also differ in the ways they are able to understand and solve word problems in mathematics. They will have different personalities—some will be shy, some will be confident, some outgoing, some quiet but competent. They will each have their own life experiences and feelings about themselves. They will have different likes and dislikes, interests and needs.

However, this does not mean that a teacher has to prepare 45 or 50 different lesson plans­whether it is a single-grade or a multigrade classroom. Instead the teacher must be able to get to know and understand each of the children and prepare teaching/learning activities that will respond to and reflect these individual needs of children. As children work individually or independently, in small-groups or as a whole group, they will each benefit in their own way from these activities. What is most important is that the teacher, who is primarily responsible for planning the daily activities through which the children will learn, should know every child and keep track of how well each child is able to learn.


Journal activity: Adding new pathways

  1. Pick a lesson or activity that you enjoy teaching.

  2. List every different way that children might learn information in it: by reading? by looking at pictures? by listening?

  3. Now list every different way that children can show they understand the lesson: by speaking? by acting something out?

  4. Write down two new ways that children might learn about the subject. Then write down two new ways that they might express their understanding.


Related Links
- Different kinds of thinking, learning, and knowing
- Learning in perspective
- The concept of seven intelligences
- Background on using Multiple Intelligences
- Signs of learning styles



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Last revised February, 2001
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