A teacher cannot control what is understood. A learner’s understanding is essential if they are to correctly interpret the teacher’s intended meaning. For example a class of thirty students may have an average vocabulary of 120 words but individually there are some with a greater or lesser vocabulary. Any word that exceeds the individual constraints of a student’s vocabulary cannot be understood. A teacher’s explanation cannot exceed the student’s knowledge of words beyond which understanding is impossible. Each child must understand each word that is used.
The teacher must not surpass the words that equate to the child’s ability to understand. To be understood the teacher must not use a single word that exceeds the limit of an individual’s ability to understand. As a child develops its understanding of words and language its mind will recognise the meaning of each one of those words when they hear them. The use of metaphors is helpful when assisting a child in developing their vocabulary. There are many children who are inappropriately defined to lack intelligence when their comprehension of a subject is examined.
In truth, an exam mark in any subject merely demonstrates a child’s understanding of the ‘authorised’ language used by the teacher to define various subject areas. The words used in any language are not what they represent. Words are the universal medium used to convey and elicit understanding in the context of communication. In order to be considered ‘educated’ we must each demonstrate how well our minds have been conditioned to replace our seen reality with an educated perspective. If we do not have an educated perception we cannot perceive reality in those terms.
It is by teaching a child which word to use that the child’s mind replaces what is seen with the ‘correct’ word. At an early age each child learns by watching how their parents and siblings relate in shared experiences. At school each child’s mind is gradually ‘conditioned’ by language to think exclusively within the limits of that language. The authorised language becomes the child’s exclusive medium of communicating understanding. Language uses words to incarcerate understanding within the limits of contextual knowledge confined within a number of subjects.
An individual mind’s ability to understand and communicate using language is directly related to its knowledge and understanding of words. Each individual child’s ability to understand what they hear is equal to their knowledge and understanding of the words used. A child may learn to understand more words than they have learned to speak. For example a child’s mind may unconsciously understand but consciously struggle to pronounce simply because they have not practiced pronunciation. Our knowledge or lack of it is prejudiced by personal perception.
Our ability to learn and understand can only be limited by fixed beliefs. Any contrasting beliefs a child has about the subject taught will start with the words ‘I’. ‘I’ statements reveal personal prejudices expressed as personal limitations. ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t’ will either enable or inhibit a child’s ability when they are exposed to or participating in the activities for which they believe ‘they can’ or ‘they cannot’. Beliefs are individual constraints that prejudice each individual child’s perception when they observe or are exposed to any ‘stimulus’ they have a fixed belief about.
For example two children may be asked their opinion on the subject of mathematics. The first child may say that they find mathematics to be ‘difficult’ and say their exam results are poor. The second child may say they enjoy mathematics but struggle with algebra. There are two common factors that can contribute to the contrasting exam results experienced among a group of the same teacher’s students. The first is an individual child’s ability to understand what is being taught due to a lack of understanding of the ‘words’ that are used by the teacher.
What may have also occurred is that a child may have taken a subjective meaning as a ‘personal belief’ about what is being taught creating a ‘misunderstanding’ expressed as an incorrect answer. A misunderstanding can create a built-in error response within the mind. So with misunderstanding a child may automatically arrive at 5 when 2 plus 2 is added. Whilst the results of an exam reveal the level competence in the subject it will not reveal the cause of below average marks in a class’s exam results. The exam results do not indicate intelligence they indicate ‘understanding’.
There is no answer that is ‘incorrect’. Each answer reveals the child’s ‘level of understanding’ on the date that the exam was conducted. The only value of an exam is to reveal any lack of understanding or any misunderstandings. The teacher should use exam data as feedback to help their pupils acquire the required level of understanding. To write a report containing comments such as ‘could do better’ focuses on exam results not understanding. To write ‘seems unable to concentrate’ focuses on behaviour.
Poor exams results are caused by a lack of effective communication. The objective of teaching is to impart knowledge that creates an ability that empowers a child. The method of teaching either works or it does not. If it does not then to continue with the same methods cannot result in any measureable improvements. A teacher training college cannot make a teacher. A teacher must understand how the mind understands if they are to transfer or facilitate understanding. Lecturing demonstrates the teacher’s knowledge but it does not guarantee that each student acquires understanding.
Exam results reveal how effective a teacher is in their ability to influence those who are taught. Intelligence is not acquired it is inherent! Teaching by its very existence reveals that what is taught is ‘not inherent’. What a poor student reveals is a crime they are not guilty of. If intelligence is inherent then why can’t all students excel in education? The answer is a ‘lack of understanding’. All around the world students by the million reveal the cause en masse with a universal answer when their teacher asks why they do not understand.
The common answers are ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I don’t understand’. A teacher’s perception of a child’s testimony may interpret this answer to mean that a child is ‘below average’, ‘stupid’, ‘lazy’ or ‘useless’. Teaching by lecturing alone cannot work en masse because it incorrectly assumes that lecturing results in universal understanding. It does not matter what words are chosen to impart specific knowledge if those words are not understood. To give a presentation to a group of people who all applaud will not benefit those people without understanding.
The only way to increase understanding is to increase understanding. This requires understanding. If a person has given their loyalty to a fixed belief their mind may not easily accept an explanation that is conflict with what they believe. New teaching material is like a baton in a relay race and the next runner is ‘greater understanding’. It is only if the baton of ‘understanding’ is successfully transferred can the next runner achieve greater levels of understanding. The baton cannot reach the finish line if the runners do not take the baton to the point at which the next runner is waiting to further the collective knowledge of the pupil.
If the teacher does not identify any misunderstandings their pupils may have then those pupils will not learn. Misunderstanding cannot result in understanding. Understanding the cause of a student’s misunderstanding will reveal the appropriate learning method for that student. When it comes to the mind one size does not fit all. It is for the teacher to identify the most appropriate teaching method for each student. This must be done prior to an exam if an exam failure is to be avoided. This awareness is of no value to a teacher or their student after a failed exam.
Regular assessment of a student’s ability will reveal their level of understanding. A teacher’s assessment of a student is only valuable if it enables the student and teacher to identify any misunderstandings. If the teaching method does not evaluate each individual student it will not identify or adapt to the individual requirements of the student. It is for the teacher to identify how to remove any misunderstanding a student may have. This is essential if the teacher is to ensure the student acquires the necessary level of understanding.
In many cases the first time a student’s level of understanding is brought to the attention of their teacher is after they have taken an exam. For many teachers this is the only feedback a teacher gets on how successful their methods have been. Mock exams are only useful if the data is used to adapt the teaching method to suit the individual student. Poor exam results often lead to the mistaken perception that the exam result is evidence of the student’s academic ability. The criterion for an exam pass is established by average student marks. There are no average students.
Each student is a unique individual. In truth when a student fails an exam they as individuals have ‘not failed’ they have simply not acquired the understanding necessary to pass an exam. The child lacks nothing. The level of understanding is the only thing established by the results of an exam. When the required understanding is established it is not possible to ‘fail’ an exam. The belief that ‘inherent intelligence’ can be measured is incorrect. ‘Intelligence is inherent’ within all children but understanding of educational subjects is not inherent and must be acquired.
Other relevant articles –