Last year was a struggle for my son. His teacher was good, but she was unable or unwilling to cater to his learning style. She was bent on piling up the work and making him learn through application, never considering that maybe there were other ways he could absorb the lessons. And so every night was a battle having him finish his homework and any unfinished class work of any given day. It broke my heart to see him so unhappy, but I told him that as long as she's in charge he would have to do things her way.
And mind you, I did bring the subject up to his teacher. She assured me that he would be accommodated, but a week later the homework piled up again, as well as my ordeal of getting him to turn it in on time.
There were times I was upset with his teacher, but then I'd show up for work and see the same problem at the office: impatience at how certain individuals processed information. What's unfortunate is that even managers were found making insulting remarks or scowling when this miscommunication evolved. They gave a direction, expected it carried out and realized that, nope, the delivery wasn't as they expected. Comprehension and intelligence, or the lack thereof, had absolutely nothing to do with the confusion. There was a mixup in the delivery of that instruction and the final mental processing. The end result was either disappointment or a feeling of inadequacy, but never, ever the enlightening learning lesson it should have been. I'll tell you why.
Whether its in the education or professional realms, there is so much focus on the end results: scores, grades, performance, the bottom line. Name the metric and I'll tell you just how debilitating it is to the learning process. My son's teacher was aiming to get all her students to pass the third grade state exam so the school can make its own grade. The managers I mentioned? They were under pressure to prove themselves as well.
And so it goes - or continues - I should really say. With all the money entities spend on increasing awareness to what we in the business world have labeled "soft skills", we continue to focus on the result and not the lesson. I witnessed this first hand when I brought up the possibility of discussing relationship-building during one of my courses and was met with a blank stare. The reaction would have been different had I mentioned diversity. That would have been met with understanding and encouragement, but the connection between differences in learning styles as a source of diversity would have never been made.
So what's the solution? That we make it a point to remind the forgetful that respecting differences includes accepting other's mental processes.