Response to Nel Noddings “Learning from our Students”

       The article Learning from our Students by Nel Nodding’s focuses on the importance of changing the curriculum to better-fit students individual needs.  This is important because the goal of education is to have students become productive members of society and the current education system could be slightly changed to fit that goal.

      I agree with the fact that required unnecessary courses are detrimental to all students, both those who struggle and those who excel.  Personally I had good grades in high school and took advanced placement courses, but when it came to math classes I struggled.  I would spend time focusing on this class; going after school or at lunch to get help.  This took time and effort away from the other classes I enjoyed and needed for University.  All of this for a class whose information I did not enjoy, need, or even remember.  At the same time Students who excel in a certain subject will not be challenged in a regular class.  And in a school without advanced courses, those students may not reach their potential and thus lose interest in school.

       The idea in this article that resonated with me is how teachers can encourage an atmosphere of a love of learning in their classrooms.  Teachers should always be able to connect what they are teaching to other subjects and their student’s everyday lives.  Otherwise the information will seem unnecessary to students who will more than likely forget it.  This way of teaching is also good for the teacher who is will be constantly discovering new and interesting things, encouraging their continued interest in their own subject as well as developing new interests.  I was inspired to go into education by teachers who taught in this way and were able to show me the importance of self-improvement as a teacher by always searching for new information that they could share with students.

       The only problem I found with the article is the idea that instead of a grading system teachers could comment on and return students work until both are satisfied with the result.  This idea is good in theory, but in a classroom of thirty students with so much information to cover it seems almost impossible.  The teacher would be constantly reviewing assignments and would not get half way through the curriculum.  The students would know the ideas that were covered much better but would not even be taught many other important things.  The problem here is whether we sacrifice the quality of the information or the quantity taught.

       This article supports many of the ideas expressed in my teaching philosophy.  One of the basic points in my teaching philosophy is that students, especially at the late elementary and high school levels, have their own beliefs about their education, and these beliefs should not be ignored.  This article is very focused on the importance of students taking responsibility for their education rather than having adults tell them what they have to do.  According to Noddings “sameness may be a dramatic example of inequality”  (2).  This fits with my belief that no child is the same so they should not be treated the same.  Every child has particular needs and by not taking those needs into consideration in the classroom, one is not helping that child reach their full potential.  By treating every child differently according to their needs you are, in effect, treating them equally.

       I agree with the ideas that Nodding presents in this article.  And as a future teacher I plan to incorporate her ideas of encouraging the love of learning in students and finding ways to lower the extreme emphasis on grades that is currently seen in most classrooms.