Special needs educator wants teaching revolution

Special needs educator Cheryl Rock is suggesting a revolutionary approach to teaching with students driving their own learning.

Rock, principal of the Derrick Smith School and Vocational Centre that caters to children and adults with special needs, said rapid technological advancements had rendered the traditional form of teaching redundant.

In an address yesterday to the annual general meeting of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, she advised that in order to prepare today’s students for the world they would face as adults, it was necessary to abandon the traditional education system for a more modern system.

Cheryl Rock delivering her message to the BCD annual general meeting.
Cheryl Rock delivering her message to the BCD annual general meeting.

“The children we are teaching today, we’re teaching them for jobs that have not yet been invented. So what do we teach? Can we teach Geography and History? What kind of English and Maths are we supposed to teach that Google can’t give them?

“A lot of children know a lot more than us [teachers]. We have to change what we are doing and how we are doing things because the children that we are teaching are completely different. Tradition and traditional education cannot work,” she told those gathered at the Dalkeith headquarters of the National Union of Public Workers for the meeting.

Speaking on Special Needs Education, Rock stressed the individuality of students and unique challenges that each one faced.

As a result, she suggested, each student must be dealt with as an individual.

“The only way that can occur in a classroom is be getting rid of traditional education, and it is something I believe very strongly in. I think that children should drive their own learning [and] the only way you can do that is by looking at youngsters as individuals”.

Rock said it was the norm for educators to “teach to the middle and up” with a view to having students average 50 per cent or better in the chosen subjects.

She also argued that the traditional manner of teaching did not unearth talents of many children.

“We want those bright students, we want the students that up our percentages, but when you do that you miss out on . . . the ones who think differently, the talented who think differently, experience life differently, see things in a different way,” she said.

5 Responses to Special needs educator wants teaching revolution

  1. Mark Fenty
    Mark Fenty July 2, 2016 at 6:03 am

    Children in particular with some form of intellectual and physical disabilities want/wish inclusiveness, so this idea of segregating children from the larger school environment, does more harm than good, because these special needs children are made to feel different.

  2. Brien King
    Brien King July 2, 2016 at 6:20 am

    “A lot of children know a lot more than us [teachers]. What a special stupid thing to state, so I guess the government is paying the wrong people then as they should be paying these kids while they teach the teachers, cool, I hope the government got that.

  3. Genisa Cheltenham July 2, 2016 at 6:47 am

    At the school she teaches at there is no segregation they are as one and taught to show their potential

  4. Sheree-Ann July 2, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Reform is possible.

  5. Dr Michele Perry-Springer July 3, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Brief it is that type of closed thinking that keeps us in the dark ages when it comes to education. We have to use the research evidence to our advantage and not remain stuck. There something progressive about seeing children as partners in their own learning and teachers have to be skilled at understanding how to be guided by and not only guide their pupils. It bothers me that when we have opportunities to examine and to take a radical look at how we educate our children we are quick to ridicule. As Mrs Rock says we are trying to educate children today for a world none of us can truly imagine and woe is us if we can’t/won’t think and/or do education differently. We have too many children failed by the educational system we owe it to them and our society to at least dare to have the conversation.


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