They're Like Metronomes


"Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future" ~ Dennis Waitley


I've been asked many times what my philosophy of education is, by people in education and those outside. During one of my Principal qualification courses I was asked to write my philosophy of education and defend it to the group and the instructor. As a piece of writing it was fine. It was honest and thoughtful but nothing spectacular that would get me published in a leading educational journal or magazine. But as I entered my sixth year as a vice principal I began to really pay attention to the subtle nuances that are the centre of every educator - the students.

It's not that I didn't recognize the differences in how students learned before now, but something really changed in my philosophy of education, more specifically the differences in how students learn. Maybe it's because I'm now a father watching my daughter grow before my eyes so quickly that I've begun to really pay attention to how students learn. Maybe it's just my experiences in education that have forced me into a new way of thinking. Whatever the reasons are that have influenced my thinking about education and how students learn they can all be summed up by a funny looking device called a metronome.

As a child I remember my father playing the piano every night after dinner, the metronome guiding his playing as my brother and I played in the basement. I clearly remember noticing how the speed would change depending on the song he was playing. It was fascinating to me how the metronome would just continue doing it's job until my dad finished playing and stopped it. My father was a organist and choir director at church and also played at weddings with other musicians and singers. Every time I saw him rehearse the metronome was there working away at different speeds depending on the song they were playing to help guide their practice. 

The metronome is now the analogy I use when I think of students and how they learn. They each have their own rhythm. Some are methodical as they make their way through learning something. Others have a faster pace. They are able to grasp concepts quicker and complete their work faster than others. The metronome could even change for a student from subject to subject. Some students' metronome may need to be adjusted to a slower pace when learning math, others when learning a new language. As educators we must accept and embrace how students learn. They each have their own pace, set by their own internal metronome. But eventually, no matter what pace their metronome is set to, they all get to the end of their song.

I'd love to hear your philosophy of education or how you view student learning, or even what you think about my metronome analogy.

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