Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


In the 1950s before consolidation of public schools, neighborhood schools were accessible and were staffed with teachers who often knew their student’s whole family. They were entrusted with teaching all the subject areas. The students knew the teachers and children of the entire school, which made them feel comfortable and safe. They mastered the fundamentals that allowed them to be successful in the higher grades. These children were able to build on the solid education foundation they received at these simple yet accommodating facilities.

Today’s public schools have chosen to go down a different path of fancy mega schools and ultra specialization. Each curriculum area has a professional specifically trained to teach it. This specialized approach to education has been implemented in lower and lower grade levels. Even in the first and second grade where there are homeroom teachers in charge of most of the curriculum some specialists are penetrating the classroom. These specialists are being rotated into the classroom and problem children are often sent out of the room to be remediated by specifically trained teachers in a particular area.

Every parent wants his child to learn things in depth. These teachers usually possess more knowledge in the focused area than the average generalist teacher who has been exposed to all areas. This narrow focus approach ignores the fundamental issue that a teacher needs more than an hour or two with a classroom of students to know them as individuals.

A successful elementary teacher has to have extended time in different situations to study the child to determine his strengths and weaknesses and develop a trusting relationship to maximize a child’s learning. Teachers should learn directly from the child the best method to teach frustration tolerance, delayed gratification, motivation, and a host of positive academic and emotional habits. These essential skills and habits will assist the student to persevere in improving his academic performance.

This need to teach the “whole child” is greater today than ever before. Modern mothers in the work force might have been liberated from their former responsibilities but they have left a vacuum for their children to be prepared for school. Coupled with frequent absentee fathers and single parent families, our children have little exposure to their parents.

These parents have compensated for their absence by concentrating on basic learning. Today’s children are given ample opportunities by their parents through educational toys, electronic gizmos and reading before going to bed to learn what knowledge the parents think is important to be prepared for school. Cognitive learning like colors, numbers, and letters does not insure school success.

Today’s modern family does not have the time to adequately teach the elements of building strong character. They are often not present to teach essential lessons to prepare the children for life’s obstacles. Emotional, social and overall character development are the areas that have suffered.

Today’s children do not have “quantity time” with their parents to consistently form the solid habits of a well-rounded healthy youngster. These deficiencies have to be corrected for the child to be whole and successful. The early grades teacher is the second chance for many of these children. More than ever today’s teachers need to have the opportunity and time to recognize and to fill in these gaps.

It is not how much a teacher intellectually knows, it is how well she is able to assist the learning of the child. The student is the best person to show the teacher the most effective method of instruction to reach him. This individualization of teaching the particular unique child is far superior to using a cookie cutter approach to teach to the medium level of the class.

Even before Socrates, teaching has been an art rather than the science as it is presently portrayed. A teacher who reaches students has to be a well rounded person of solid character who possesses a heavy dose of empathy.

Generalist teachers are the most efficient and effective way of educating modern children. The non-specialist teacher has the opportunity to be an expert in making an accurate assessment of each and every child’s learning style. She has the ability to pin point the strength and weakness of the child to assist each of them to be competent learners. This takes intuitive insight, quantity time and dedicated thought to uncover the missing pieces of the individual child’s puzzle of how best to learn.

Dr. Maglio is the author of Invasion Within and Essential Parenting. He is a psychotherapist and the owner/director of Wider Horizons School.


Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home