|"MOM" Muriel E (Hunt) Morris|
The times they were a changing in the late sixties in more ways than one, and education was included. Mom, who had taught school for 34 years at the time became increasingly frustrated with the new thinking in education being set out by the professor.
One day the professor said in effect that teachers must "account for individual differences" in children, and used some other trendy words in his lecture. Mom, who had not said a word in class all summer, raised her hand to ask him a question.
"Don't you mean that all children are special with needs?," she asked. I don't recall his reply to Mom, but I do know the rest of the class agreed with her. After spending her entire teaching career treating each and every child as special with needs, Mom retired two years later after teaching at Chapleau Public School and at Kekabeka Falls, shortly after I returned home to teach. My mother was Muriel E Morris.
Mom taught elementary school and emphasized the child before the subject content always.
Obviously she had no use for the labelling of children, or anyone else for that matter.
Let me give you an example that involved me. I was teaching economics at Chapleau High School, and almost all the students in my class failed a test. I was having coffee with Mom and pontificating against my class in typical teacher fashion. Mom stopped my little rant, made some suggestions including that maybe I scrap the course content as I had prepared it, and start over. She also suggested I might want to think about finding another career.
"Start where the students are, not where you are," she recommended, adding that she didn't have the foggiest notion what I was talking about when I tried to explain the material on the test.
I took her advice and we started over. In fact, as Junior "B" hockey was very big in Chapleau at the time, I used a hockey rink to teach the factors of production.
Some years later, a school board member, on a tour of the school, stuck his head in Room 104 and asked me, "Is there where they teach hockey?" I replied yes it was and offered to demonstrate. He didn't take me up on the offer.
Today, more than ever, I believe my mother was right, and I was so fortunate to finish my teaching career at College of the Rockies where I helped found a grad program in new media communications which was very student centred. I will always be indebted to Dr. Wm. Berry Calder, the president of COTR, who believed that the future is now in 1994 and supported me as we pioneered web based communications when many told me that email would never really catch on.
The advances in internet technology since I retired in 2000 have been phenomenal, and today I think of the possibilities for a real student centred education system where it is accepted that each child is special with needs.
I would be most interested to hear from you. Please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org