Many of us have a natural tendency to assume that everyone learns in the same way that we do. I learned about this tendency through my experience with my father, who made the mistake of assuming that I learn in the same way that my brother, and he himself, learn. After several years of struggling, he realized that I learned in a completely different way than both him and my brother, and that my interests were also different, and allowed me to pursue my interests in that way that was right for me. Although this knowledge has been in the back of my mind since that first experience with my father, my personal recognition of this tendency came much later. My father’s mistakes behind me, I decided I was going to open up a school of my own where movement and physical energy is fostered and nurtured. In my mind, this would be the ideal school, as I think that every child has an innate nature to want to move. However, about a year ago, I was talking to my father about his conversation with one of my friends, who is getting a degree in elementary education. He told me that she had made a very astute observation about me, she said “Bria wants to open a school for people who are like her.” Although I believe this was meant to be a compliment, both from her and from my father when he was retelling it to me, I took it very differently. Something struck me like a weight, and I felt guilty and ignorant about my approach to education. I had inadvertently done exactly as my father had to me, and as many educators have to other children, I had assumed that every child learned in the way I did, and I had planned to design my school based on that assumption.
Since hearing my friend say that about me, I am constantly reminding myself of the differences in learners, in their abilities, skills, ways of learning, and interests. My ideas about my school have become more open-ended, more ready to stretch and mold based on the knowledge that I acquire about education through my studies, and my work in the field. And every time I find myself slipping back to that assumption, assuming that a child does or should learn in a certain way, in my way, I hear my friend’s words in my head, and I remind myself that I want to create a school that is effective for many learners, not just ones like me.