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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD Traditional Realist

Many public schools are impressive not only due to the size of the magnificent facility, but for their detailed programs and their highly trained teachers. The teachers go through elaborate retraining for new or retooled programs, often every two-years. In addition they have to attend seminars on a regular basis. The syllabuses they are given are specific about the area covered on a specific line-by-line, day-by-day basis. Supportive bureaucrats out of the school district office often produce these detailed guides.

These subject-trained teacher-experts have been systematically trained in numerous educational approaches. These are recycled depending on the latest educational fad and psychological jargon. Often what was peddled last year might be blasphemous in this year’s program. What was inappropriate in the past could now be considered the best practice. This education loop just replays.

Inherent in this revolving and elaborate training is that the teachers have to follow the dictates from above rather than use their knowledge learned from practicing the art of teaching. Teachers are treated as robotic instruments playing on the same note and the same tune that the state and local school districts have composed. This keeps the one-sound-fits-all music for easier monitoring and evaluating across states and nationally.

The principal and administrators are the orchestra conductors who are supposed to ensure every teacher is playing the same music as any other teacher in the same grade. The problem is the composers are in the state capital not in the classroom. A teacher’s unique creativity might enrich the sound (classroom) but would destroy the monotone school culture.

The audience evaluating the performance is not the students; it is the data results from the standardized testing of them. Students are simply the objects that are supposed to absorb the music and are supposed to regurgitate it word-for-word on the exams without any deviation from the precise instructions.

A major flaw in this “top-down- teachers say it and students know it approach-” is it does not account for the differences and uniqueness of each student. Students differ in many ways. Some learn visually, some auditorally, some tactilely and various combinations of these. Each student has different interests, organizational and concentration skills that impact performance.

A few students have an acute memory; they can hear things, memorize them quickly and easily so they do well in this type of activity. While many children can initially repeat an idea or statement they need many repetitions to have it firmly established in their long-term recall. Parents know this reality because they have to constantly repeat answers to questions the child previously knew. This is the reason many academic facts have to be taught year after year in a more detailed form for the student to finally grasp the material.

Repetition does not always work. When a teacher attempts to communicate knowledge on a particular subject to an audience there will be a considerable portion of them who are not ready, able or willing to process the information. These people openly shut down or hide behind their individual masks so as not to alienate the speaker. But they are not actively listening.

The teacher/speaker might have fantastically interesting material to deliver to their audience although the time and place or the person’s state of mind could be out of sync with the message or the messenger. The material might go in one ear and out the other.

Teachers and parents have to observe the child as he is speaking. When there is a question or a series of questions that they are not listening to, the teacher should direct them to pay better attention by asking them pointed questions about what they just said.

The way each student learns most effectively is the puzzle a teacher must solve to improve his or her student’s learning effectiveness. Without assisting the student to understand how he best learns, the progress of the student’s learning will be limited to a snail’s pace. Once the child decides on his best individual learning style, his competency skyrockets, his confidence grows and his internalizing information and knowledge becomes seemingly automatic and natural.

As students climb the academic ladder they become more responsible for their own learning style until eventually they will develop into a more independent learner. When an individual determines what he wants to understand or know better he has already made the choice to focus on the available information. The self-commitment leads down a path of discovery. Only the person who has started on this journey determines when and if to end it. Most independent learners never feel satiated with an interest area of learning. It becomes a life long endeavor.

Any educator or parent should know that just because you said it or taught it does not mean the information penetrated the child’s brain. Only their behavior and unsolicited responses will indicate it has.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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