Each student comes into the classroom with a unique set of experiences and way of thinking that needs to be respected. Valuing uniqueness is the first step towards encouraging originality and innovation and bringing out the latent potential of each and every student. By valuing the uniqueness of each student, you can watch them brim with enthusiasm and a twinkle in their eyes as they spend their time in the portals of learning. The information presented to the student and the projects that the student works on can be enhanced by encouraging each and every student to share his or her perspective, suggestions and prior experience or knowledge about the topic. This will enable the student to make a stronger connection with the topic discussed and make learning more meaningful and engaging. It will also enhance the team spirit and the collaborative environment in the classroom as each student’s unique inputs are valued and multiple perspectives and ideas are looked at for making the learning process joyful and wholesome.
Valuing the uniqueness of each student will create an atmosphere of empathy and collaboration rather than unhealthy competition among students. It will also help in mitigating unhealthy perceptions and biases among students as students openly voice their multiple perspectives which can greatly be affected by multiple influences including the media. The students will be able to think in a more objective and empathetic manner on a particular topic after a holistic discussion facilitated by a mentor.
The following are a few suggestions to parents, teachers and mentors to create an atmosphere where the uniqueness of the student/child is enhanced and valued in the learning process.
1. The K-W-L-H chart is a great way to start a discussion and understand the unique prior knowledge or experience of each student and the various facets that they are looking at. The acronym K-W-L-H stands for What I/We Know about the topic, What I/We are Wondering about, What have I/We Learnt, How I/We can Learn More. Using this as a guide, the entire topic can be discussed from the initial to the final stages in a comprehensive way and wonderful insights can be garnered from each student.
2. Brainstorming in which each student’s idea is voiced is a great way to encourage students to innovate and come up with new and unique ideas. Their uniqueness will be valued in the learning process and their thinking skills will also be enhanced.
3. Group discussions where each student is able to voice his/her thoughts on a researched topic in order to learn more and work on new projects is another great way to value the uniqueness of each and every student in the classroom during the learning process.