EDUCATION: August 13, 2014
Teachers, not Politicians, are the Education Experts
A Commentary by Christina Holmgren-Larson

My three children, though from the same gene pool, showed great variation in interests, abilities, learning strategies, and learning preferences from an early age. I have been lucky enough to, most of the time, find schools with educators possessing the experience and ability to juggle a classroom full of students of vastly different genetics, socio-economic backgrounds, interests, learning styles, and abilities. Teachers who were allowed to do so.

One child learned to read at 3, memorized factoids for fun, and was after two weeks in Kindergarten taken under the wing of a passionate teacher who allowed him in the gifted-talented program every afternoon - not just the 30 minutes a week that the law gave him the right to.

Another child only wanted to create things with her hands. I found her a charter school that accepted individually paced development of academic skills, with a strong focus on arts and crafts.

The third one has a strong drive to do her best at whatever is put in front of her. She spent six years in a Waldorf-style charter school, and adapted easily to a mainstream public school class in sixth grade.

Like my children, every child is unique. Every child needs different approaches to succeed. Every child requires a different definition of "success," one that is based on their individual abilities and passions.

I once visited a second-grade classroom during Math class. One kid was lying on her stomach in the back of the room, kicking her legs in the air, and diligently working away on a worksheet. One was standing by the corner of his desk rocking side to side while solving math problems. The teacher explained, "If I force those two to sit at their desks, they aren't able to do it; they are kinetic learners."

A teacher at my daughter's school spent her summer researching alternatives to medication for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. That fall, she provided an incoming second-grader with a one-legged stool to sit on, and permission to chew gum in class. That was all that this particular boy needed to be able to focus; those two things gave him the "outlet" he needed for his physical energy.

The idea of a one-size-fits-all curriculum and pedagogy is ludicrous. Parents know this. Teachers know this. It is disrespectful not only to students, but also to teachers, to push a national curriculum and pedagogy. Only an oppressively collectivist society would dream of first educating professionals, and then hamstringing them by artificially or ideologically limiting their ability to use their education and experience.

The best teachers, as the best surgeons, scientists, plumbers, and carpenters have the knowledge to determine for themselves when and how to be creative in order to attain optimal results. Politicians should view it as their mission to provide teaching professionals with the freedom to do exactly that.

Christina Holmgren-Larson, Wyoming Liberty Group

Editors please note: staff photos are available at

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