Monday, January 30, 2012

Einstein's Definition of Insanity

Einstein's definition of insanity is one of my all time favorite quotes.  He says simply: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

How many times, as teachers or parents, do we do the same thing we have always done and end up with the same conflict, problem or lack of learning on the child's part.  I agree with Einstein.  That's insane.

We are the adults who are in the lead role.  It's up to us to change something first.  If I continue doing everything exactly as I have done it before, shouldn't expect the same thing that happened before to happen again?  And yet, what happens?  The child typically gets blamed.  We say things like "You need to listen harder." (quote from Rick Lavoie and FAT City).  Seriously??  Listen harder?  How do you do that?  Or we say you're lazy or just not trying.  Or we say you need to apply yourself.

I think Einstein's quote on insanity speaks to one of my favorite aspects of teaching students with special needs.  The kids can, in fact, learn.  We have centuries of data to prove that going all the way back to Itard, Seguin and Montessori. 

It's up to me to figure out what to change.

Perhaps I change the way the material is presented.  Some children can learn complex concepts with the support of visual cues or kinesthetic modes of processing the information.  Perhaps I change how the student has to respond.  Perhaps instead of writing his/her response, I have them orally tell it.  Perhaps I change the way the student is engaged.

I find Einstein's quote to be a challenge for me to figure how to help the students in my class learn the skills and concepts they need to learn.

photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons; the Smithsonian Institution


Prudy Jo's Technology SpEd Blog said...

I agree with what you are saying. I also am a SpEd teacher and find myself teaching the same thing, the same way. Then I wonder why the student is not "getting it" DUH! I need to change my delivery.
Thank you for the reminder. We all need to remember we are here for the students; we can change to help them learn.
There is not "cookie cutter" approach to students. Each person is an individual that that is what makes us wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Greetings Fellow Spedders,
24 yr. veteran here. I currently am teaching Elementary DCD/Mild students and having a BLAST!! Never thought I would get back so much energy from my career. I have thirteen DCD students, crammed into the smallest/half classroom space that I have to teach in and LOVING IT. Interesting thing about smaller spaces: they force you to get ORGANIZED!!
So, I just woke up from a ten year sleep from technology, and quickly finding the learning curve to be rather steep.
Right now I am looking for some WebPals for my students. Basically, I am hoping to find a group of "like" students to videolog/vlog with my group. Any idea where to search, cuz I sure haven't found any sites?

Gracias Amigos!

Stacydz said...

I completely agree with what you are saying. I am currently working on my Intervention Specialist license. I have also had the pleasure of listening to Rick Lavoie in person and he is so inspiring. It is important to me to remember that I am the one responsible to find the way to help my students learn. If a student is not understanding something, then it is up to me to find a different way or strategy to use to help that student. It's not the student's fault that they don't understand something, they are in school to learn. My job is to give the students all the necessary tools to help them do that.

ack735 said...

I love this post because as special educators of tomorrow, it is vital to continue using new research-based strategies that can guarantee students learning. Einstein hit it on the nail, that using the same strategy will not all of a sudden result in amazing improvement, or mostly likely woulnd not do so. I believe that many teachers out are either lazy or do not know how to find effective materials, so they are left with few options. Individualized instruction is needed, which means that every child should be provided with practices that meet their own needs.