Every person has a "gift" for learning in some way. Teachers who look for and find that gift in each child have made a successful start on the education process, says Jeannette Vos, a recent visitor in Salt Lake City.
Vos, co-author of "The Learning Revolution," promotes a holistic approach to education, considering each individual's social, environmental, emotional, phusical and psychological factors.Today's teachers are "perspiring instead of inspiring" because they are struggling against the grain rather than using natural learning techniques to help children, said Vos. She presented three workshops last week to educators, business people and youths interested in hearing her message.
"Most people never learn to learn," she said. Unless new knowledge can be applied to a person's life, it it soon forgotten.
Vos has developed a program dubbed "Super Camp" that has been used with children in the Oceanside, Calif., area. Those who participate average a one-point growth in their grade-point-average after taking part in the four-pronged approach, she said. It emphasizes personal growth, life skills, learning to learn and applying information to life.
"The United States suffers from a mentality of scarcity," Vos believes. The public gives permission by approval - either overt or tacit - for the things that happen in society, she said. Overweening support for some athletes and performers, for instance, empowers them to continue to make enormous amounts of money and command public adulation, whether or not they deserve it, she said.
If the public lent the same "permission" to education, the resources would be made available to provide the kind of education she believes children should receive.
Substantial changes in the country's education systems must begin with reinforcing values and belief systems, Vos suggests. Such common values as simple courtesy would create a basis for teaching the academic subjects. In current practice, the academics are taught without values, she said.
In the ideal setting, "The child is the curriculum, not a book. The teacher is accountable to the child, not to the principal; the principal to the teachers, not to the superintendent, the superintendent to the principal. They become `gofers' who serve each other."
Failure to understand how the brain works limits teachers in their ability to meet the needs of individual children, Vos said. Given op-portunities to test their own ways of learning, children quickly identify their own "gifts" and inner resources, she believes.
"We continue to use a hand shovel in education, instead of a bulldozer," she told her audiences. "We become stuck in our thinking."