Xlibris author Chandana Watagodakumbura talks about his inspirations on “education in a different sense” through his book Education from a Deeper and Multidisciplinary Perspective – a Futuristic View.
Everyone has unique learning needs
When I read Thomas Armstrong’s book on neurodiversity a few years ago, it gave me insights into some perennial limitations in the way we have understood this world. We unconsciously expected all individuals to be born, brought up and educated in the same way. Those who adjusted well to the unique methodology we adapted in the process became triumphant while those who did not fit into it left behind, irrespective of whether the latter group of individuals suffered from some kind of learning difficulty (I dislike to use the term disability) or demonstrated some exceptional but unusual abilities in some learning spaces. The methodology we followed was a “one size fits all” type and that one size we were after was the average of all learning spaces, not accommodating any highs or lows of any specific learning space. We presumed that every child should develop synchronously, meaning at the same pace as everyone else and in all learning spaces.
Backed up by science
I would like to question our approach in the presence of emerging findings from the disciplines of neuroscience, psychology, neurology and pedagogy (or from the emerging collective discipline/term of educational neuroscience). We have identified predominant learning preferences in individuals such as visual-spatial and auditory-sequential abilities (as referred to by Linda Silverman). In the theory of multiple intelligences (as put forth by Howard Gardner), a number of different abilities individuals can possess, such as verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal etc. are identified. Neurologically, individuals can demonstrate different degrees of overexitabilities (as referred to by Kazimierz Dabrowski) such as intellectual, emotional, imaginational, psychomotor and sensual overexitabilities. Learning is identified as making connections between one’s existing knowledge-base and the new knowledge he or she gets exposed to. When learners make these connections, the neural networks in the learner brain grow denser. Most importantly these neural networks continue to grow so long as you use them effectively (as initially presented by Donald Hebb), and further, they can grow throughout one’s lifespan. Human consciousness (As mainly presented by Gerald Edelman and Giulio Tononi) grows when neural networks in the hemispheric cortices develop and with that we achieve human development, so to speak. Through this higher level of consciousness, learners are believed to develop wisdom as a higher form of creativity, integrating knowledge from multiple domains. Consequently, developing wisdom in our individuals, by helping them to create neural connections among different parts of the brain, should be our ultimate goal in the education system we use; this is what we are capable of achieving biologically or from the point of view of neuroscience, as human beings. However, any individual may naturally and uniquely demonstrate strengths as well as weaknesses in any single or multiple areas we mentioned above. We cannot expect to have hypothetical super humans who possess ideal doses of all characteristics or in all learning spaces. For example, when one is overexcitable emotionally, the individual may demonstrate high learning capacities even though he or she may be highly vulnerable to negative emotional impacts. We achieve human development by improving on those individual weaknesses as a lifelong process, while relying on the powers of individual higher strength areas.
Author Chandana Watagodakumbura shares of his inspiration on the sequel of his Xlibris Blog.