The contemporary education system is relatively complex and understanding education psychology is critical in appreciating that there is no single approach in teaching or learning. Therefore, education psychologists have a keen focus in identification and the studying of learning methods fundamental in absorbing and retaining new information. Education psychology incorporates diverse human development theories in understanding individual learning and in turn device the best instructional process for learners.
While the interaction between students and teachers remain critical, it is not the only facet where information is obtained and retained. Virtually, learning is a continuous endeavour irrespective of the setting. Psychologists within the field of education typically make use of the cognitive, emotional and social processes entailed in learning to basically improve the learning process. One of the major learning challenges that the education psychologists have extensively studied is learning disabilities within school aged children which is a common amongst children. This paper entails a reflection of my early childhood and having to deal with multiple learning disabilities and the experience in relation to various learning theories. Growing up, I intensely had to battle with learning disabilities ranging from math to reading, to slight ADHD. The ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders amongst children, and it also affects teens and may continue into adulthood. Essentially, children with ADHD are hyperactive and, in some cases, may be completely unable to regulate their impulses in addition to having a very short attention span. The mental disorder significantly interferes with both home life and school life for the children and it is most common in boys as compared to girls. My parents discovered that I was suffering my learning disabilities during my early years of schooling although I believe that there were signs that that they were percent before then.
Being a LD student made me feel that I constantly had an itch that needed scratching (although this was only in my mind) it was as if I could never get ahead or grab concepts like the others students did. I always felt that there was a bee in my head that kept buzzing and hindered me from staying focused in doing something because I did not understand the concepts we were learning, or I simply could not read the material. Because of this I would often drift off in daydreams. It was very painful for me to stay focused on one thing for a long period of time including long conversations especially with many people, unfourtently this is something I still struggle with in adulthood. My mind could leap around or moves to thousands of miles away as other people’s conversations seemed pretty slow. I had a major problem paying attention to my teachers in class and my performance in school was dismal. I could be in class physically, but my mind will be wondering and contemplating on various things. Later on in grade one it was determined that the reason for my lack of attention was due to the numerous learning disabilities, my mind simply worked in a different way than others. In addition, my mind was constantly forming connections as it leaped around the world. I remember telling my mother on several occasions that I did not have a train of thought as other people do but rather planes of thought that could move very fast to different things. In my mind, I created stories related to either the topic at hand or other random things that sometimes did not even connect to the ongoing conversations
If the conversation was moved forward before expressing my opinion, felt uncomfortable and could lose complete attention on the topic. I experienced the same challenge in writing and reading. Most are the times that I could write tangential stuff although they were not related in paper but rather in my mind. My mother would often say,“I ran off with topics.” I had trouble with managing time as very simple tasks could be a major challenge since my attention span was extremely short and I did not understand what I was doing in the classroom. Urie Bronfenbrenner (1977) uses diverse systems for describing his model on human development, and he engages an approach that explicitly explores the notion of social construction and learning disabilities at a closer lens. His theory provides a critical preface of delving and understanding learning disabilities through a comparison of human development and how it is impacted by the environment or society around them(Rasmussen et al. 2019). Bronfenbrenner points that an individual’s environment has a significant impact on the development of human beings.
The various systems that he elaborates are generally interrelated, and they can be effectively used for studying and understanding learning disabilities as a social construct. Essentially, Bronfenbrenner’s model of human development points out to key social relationships as well as the primary social constructs that influence on physical, social and emotional well-being of individuals. The model is extremely useful in terms of both research and practice of diverse learning challenges across the globe (Mark, 2011). The model provides a fundamental rationale on how one’s environment more so social context including school engagement and performance affect a child’s life. Ideally, human development encompasses complex interactions in a person’s life and how the person may evolve depending on their surroundings.
Typically, the nature of interaction including their direction and form may influence development although at varying degrees (Mark, 2011). The model is also important in the identification of central social interactions critical in human learning and development in addition to the influence of time and developmental changing a child’s development. While Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) model describes human development, his ideologies are relevant in relation to various growth disorders including numerous learning disabilities which are significantly socially influenced. Generally, the environmental disorders that are responsible for human development also influence socially constructed disorders (Lola et al. 2019). Human beings and especially children as they develop, they are influenced by the environment which encompasses their families, peers, community and the school in addition to the various technological apparatuses that they interact with (Mark, 2011).
The customs that are associated with socially constructed disorders can also be impacted by similar factors. Individuals can learn about learning disabilities either from their technological devices, parents, medical professionals or the media. In my case I had medical professionals do psychoeducational assessments since I was in grade one. Subsequently, teachers in the contemporary education system have to deal with rising cases of learning disabilities and most of the students have been put on medication (ADHD) or they don’t have the proper psychoeducational assessments to get the proper teaching. Teachers are increasingly experiencing shorter life spans with their students in the traditional classroom (Mark, 2011). Students battling learning disabilities of many kinds and have to contend very long hours listening to their teachers and at the end of it all do exams and their performance and school engagement may be dismal according to the teachers. However, schools entail one example of an institutionalized setting with a set standard with regard to performance and behaviour that are culturally defined by society. Society predominantly dictates what is normal and what is not and individuals who are ‘not normal’ according to the set standards are either ‘molded’ or ‘fixed’(Martinez et al. 2016). This is the same predicament I had to go through in my early school years as I was not fitting in with the rest of the children in class.
My short attention span proved a major challenge in my learning process as I did not appear to be like the ‘normal’ children in my class, nor could I read at the level of my peers. I was constantly on being berated by teachers because I did not grasp the content, and this greatly affected how people or society viewed me in terms of performance. Basically, Microsystems encompass the immediate context within which a child resides including family, neighbourhood, school and peers. The nature of interaction within the microsystem significantly impacts the child’s development at various levels (Lola et al. 2019). Essentially, family is the first interaction that a child encounters from the time they are born. Families have a great impact on a child’s behaviour as well as acquisition of knowledge from a tender age up until they are older. Parenting styles vary and each parenting style typically reflects a parent’s strategies as well as goals in aiding their children learn and metamorphose into wholesome individuals later in life(Mark, 2011). Evidence from various amounts of researche shows that there exists a fundamental link between parenting style and a child’s academic performance (Hamilton &Astramovich, 2016). In my case, my parents never realized that I had a learning disability up until I started schooling. They considered me unique and did not put me under the microscope. I was known as being a care free little girl who loved her dance classes and being free. School was the first institution that made me feel different from other kids and in the many cases that my mother was called in school, she never at one point considered my condition as a major learning issue but rather I was just different and could not fit in a traditional class setting. By grade six I was enrolled by my parents in a private school setting that catered to children whom were classified as LD. Basically, each child is unique with unique learning abilities. However, the contemporary teaching approaches are designed in a way that a child is labelled a failure if what is taught in a traditional classroom is not understood and replicated during examinations (Martinez et al. 2016).
Current approaches infer that all children are to be taught the same irrespective of their uniqueness and the needs of some students who do not conform to the ‘normal’ standards remain unmet. Schooling infers that all students within a classroom are to learn in a specific manner as well as the same pace until they grasp the content (Hamilton &Astramovich, 2016). Thus, children who have learning disabilities and other learning challenges may not succeed in a traditional classroom and ones the parents start questioning and finding out the root of the problem, the children are unfortunately put under medication to conform with the education system. Conversely, personalized learning for learners with the perceived learning challenges, such as ADHD, can greatly aid them in prolonging their attention to the learning material. Ideally, understanding of a person including their dispositional variables may be the first step and approach towards teaching children with learning challenges (Lola et al. 2019). I vividly remember that my family was very supportive and did not make me feel as though I was less of a student. I was told I could do it and was given every opportunity to succeed in the school. Sadly for many school aged children this is not the case for them. The pressure can be unbearable for some who do not learn in a conventional way. Notably, the best learning style for people suffering from different learning disabilities is a personalized learning approach. Personalized learning entails instruction to students that is differentiated and tailored to the needs of the students as well as their learning preferences.
Personalized learning involves a content and learning objectives of the learner varying in terms of the method as well as the pace (Hamilton &Astramovich, 2016). While competency aims are held the same in personalized learning, pacing, teaching strategies and other variables may vary with the needs of the learner. Basically, personalized learning as a learning style precisely for students with learning disabilities is aimed ay enhancing motivation and engagement for the students through an increase in their self-direction and autonomy. In addition, personalized learning may entail a sturdy interaction between the student and the teacher and also the parents as all parties involved are aware of the needs and resources entailed in personalized learning (Martinez et al. 2016). Ultimately, personalized learning fosters social and emotional competencies that are not present in atypical traditional classroom that does not take into student needs. Individuals diagnosed with learning disabilities typically perform poorly in mathematics and linguistics although they are good in terms of visual intelligence. Thus, learners possessing other intelligences may face a major challenge in traditional classrooms as their stronger intelligences are not exploited (Rettig, 2005).
Howard Gardner's (1983) theory of Multiple Intelligences makes tremendous contributions change the multitude of negative societal perceptions that have overtime been associated with LD learners (Rettig, 2005). The theory has significant influence in aiding children with learning differences realize their full potential as it also empowers teachers in dealing with students with learning disabilities. The multiple intelligence (MI) theory offers a theoretical framework fundamental in the design and implementation of a learning approach that is learner-centered in order to accommodate students with learning disabilities (Rettig, 2005). The MI theory involves teachers being informed about the MI profiles of their students with learning challenges. In conclusion, learning disabilities are affecting many children in the Canada as well as other places across the globe. I was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities at an early age and put into Rundle Academy since grade six to help me flourish in an education setting. Fortunately, I have been able to overcome my learning disabilities and learned how to work around them. Notably, learning disabilities is tied to a number of theories revolving around human development and more so the Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Human Development as well as other theories such as the Multiple Intelligences theory.
In addition, learning and teaching of students with IPPs and psychoeducational assessments may also take the personalized style approach that encompasses the MI theory as it takes into account other intelligences not encompassed in the traditional classroom. Changing societal constructs and perceptions towards students with learning disabilities is one of the ways that students with a learning disability can better thrive in an educational setting.
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