Monday, December 7, 2015

The Iniquity of Inequality

When everybody is special, nobody is.

Not every child is capable of above average work, but each can work hard to achieve more. The only limitations is time. We cannot expect every student to hit the same benchmarks on the same day each week.

Some children will be left behind. Some will win, some will lose. But our objective must remain the same: to give every child the opportunity to grow. And when we impose limits on children in an attempt to equalize them, we are doing a grave disservice.

I am currently attempting to gamify course curriculum as a means of increasing student engagement and allow for differentiation. Plus it plays upon their natural competitiveness. Despite successes with the new method, I continue to encounter if not opposition, at least a dark foreboding sense that the system is not fair. It's as if our culture expects a version of equality that separates effort from results, where everyone achieves equally despite their background, ability, nature or circumstances.

While the potential for failure is there, students are also shocked to learn that doing the minimum asked does not get them an "A." They work to the level parents expect of them. Game elements simply make the process entertaining but do not change the course requirements. Failure is met with a simple try it again.

Every child is unique, and that's a good thing. When we give them the space and time to grow, every student can acquire the skills they need. It's when we push students to be just like everyone else, on the same time frame that we place unfair expectations on a child's development. Equal does not mean identical.