“Tell me and I will forget.
Show me and I will remember.
Involve me and I will understand.”
As a special education teacher, I believe that Aristotle had the right idea. This is because we need to involve all students regardless of their academic ability. We need to provide all learners the chance to succeed in understanding the material we take for granted they are absorbing. We tell students so much and then expect them to regurgitate this material as answers on tests. However, if we fail to involve them in their learning, and fail to show them how things work, then how can we expect students to demonstrate their grasp of the material as they take the test.
I believe that each individual learns in her own unique way. While philosophers discuss this, I have learned it best observing the behaviors of my students, both those who are classified and in special education classes and those who are not. I have read the theories of Dr. Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences. As Gardner wrote in a paper entitled “One Way of Making a Social Scientist,” found on his website (http://www.howardgardner.com/bio/bio.html), “…human beings have eight relatively autonomous intelligences rather than a single one,” (pg. 5). These intelligences are discussed by several other authors as well.
I also subscribe to the Constructivism Theory of Education as presented by Vygotsky, Piaget, and other philosophers. I believe that, “learners build personal interpretation of the world based on experiences and interactions” and they “create novel and situation-specific understandings by ‘assembling’ knowledge from diverse sources appropriate to the problem at hand (flexible use of knowledge),” (http://cehdclass.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/IDKB/strategies.htm) Students learn from experiences both inside and outside the classroom, the school, and their personal lives. These interactions teach lessons that are sometimes more valuable than those learned in the classroom.
While these are some of the theories I teach by, I have also learned and believe that we as teachers continue to be learners with our students as our teachers. Whether working in or pursuing an education, we play a double role. Whether or not we realize it, we, as teachers, learn as much, if not more, from our students as we teach them. Because of this, our students are also our teachers. This is an important concept to remember each day we go into the classroom or any setting that we as teachers may enter.
Special education students are at an advantage when it comes to funding in the public school setting. Federal funding is available and schools can use the money for many purposes, as long as it benefits the special education student. Some of this money could be used to acquire assistive technology that, because of the many advances in that area, can be applied to meet the requirements of students with special needs. As a teacher, in addition to teaching the curriculum, or tasks as I do with my students on the Autistic Spectrum, it is my goal to help special education students and their parents learn to advocate for the students and gain access to all of the resources to which they are entitled.
Furthermore, as a special education teacher, I know that different students learn differently. I aim to apply the available technology along with my expertise, thus providing for each individual student the resources that he or she needs. My goal as a teacher is to reach each student by adapting the curriculum and teaching methods to her specific learning style. I also use and share the philosophies stated above as I both teach and learn even more from each of my students and their families. It is important to remember what Aristotle said: “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand.” Each student and the student’s family when the student is too young, must be involved in his/her education.