When we label a student as “struggling student, special ed, gifted, or suffering from trauma, ” etc., are we putting them under more pressure or are we helping them?
When educators label students, we consider it to be an education related term to help them get better, but maybe it becomes their social identity outside the class as well.
Students carry that nametag along with them for a long time. They try to find place in society with that nametag too.
One of my friends was labeled as slow reader.
He would have to stay after class for getting extra training and classes for reading. He would always been picked on in class and was tagged as “slow reader.”
Teachers would not ask him to read any chapter or assign him for any team in-group activities. They would ask him to work with them directly.
He was really good in sports, arts and crafts, social studies and science, but due to this label, he eventually lost his high scores in other subjects.
He was considered “not smart” by other teachers as well.
This trend continued and reached a point where my friend slowly gave up on his education. He was no longer interested in studying, let alone exceling in it.
These labels could possibly be the reason students to stay in that mindset for long than intended. It could be what’s holding them back.
They are either tired of this label and have stopped trying completely, or they are finding comfort in it and have given up on striving to develop stronger skills.
As we encounter students who are having problems in math, science or any subject, they are labeled as struggling students. This labeling was intended to help teachers identify students who need help.
But maybe teachers don’t strike the right balance of labeling and don’t know when to stop. These labels are more harmful more than beneficial.
There could be other reasons to be considered “struggling students.” For example, they may not be ready to learn the content at that time.
Perhaps they need more assistance with the content and have a difficult time understanding the concept.
What if their method of learning is different from their peers? These reasons don’t make these students poor learners; they have different ways of learning different topics.
As an educator, we should be facilitators for the students and try to facilitate the needs of students as needed. However, many teachers have become dictators who decide the way things should work rather than being more understanding and considerate.
As an educator, it’s a prior responsibility to accommodate all kinds of learners and to be able to tap into each student’s learning style in our curriculum.
One concept can be taught in many different ways.
Teachers are just following the mundane obsolete curriculum and have stopped being innovative with their lesson plans because going out their comfort zone is harder than labeling a student who doesn’t get it.
Any person is not static when it comes to learning; we change and learn every day.
When learning is not static, how can the ability to acquire knowledge and the student’s label stay the same forever?
Students who were slow readers may have decided to be that way for the rest of their life, but maybe their reading style and approach is different than rest of their class.
As I mentioned above my friend was not a slow reader, he used to comprehend the data differently. He would try and understand the complete context and would try to make a mental map of everything.
He is an educator now. He works for schools to create curriculum that would foster all kinds of learners.
He is good at what he does. He is also a writer, he wrote many books on education.
Underestimating any student simply because of their habits or because they lack a common skill can affect them deeply.
Moreover, it’s the duty and responsibility of a teacher to help them excel in life in their way.
Labeling them will not solve the problem but can exacerbate the situation.
It is a very fine line where students are actually suffering more than getting benefits out of the labeling.
This practice of labeling them is in a way fixing them to that category for a long time.