So a cool thing happened the other day.
While putting together our infamous “camper said what” post, I read something that struck a chord.
It stood out because this is content that usually produces laughs, facepalms, and headshakes. It’s funny stuff...typically.
But this statement was different.
It was a simple scenario out at camp:
There was a student who was getting frustrated with a Lua challenge (Lua is a programming language that’s good for kids).
Clearly agitated, the camper uttered:
“Ugh, I’m so dumb, hahaha.”
Most of us who have been flustered or embarrassed have probably joked like this to save face. We don’t really find the situation funny, but we don’t want those around us to take our “I’m so dumb” seriously.
For anyone who hasn’t been to iD Tech, our labs are loud and vibrant, but I can pretty much guarantee at least two to three other students heard the frustrated camper’s declaration.
These are kids ages 10-12, so if you could bet on the responses, most money would probably fall on “cruel” and perhaps “snarky” (“Yeah you are dumb!”). A good bet could also be silence.
But one student spoke up:
“No you’re not. Everyone learns differently.”
Like, what? Wow.
That’s so special, right?
The situation could have played out in a million different ways, many of them negative or even neutral, but that’s an amazing outcome.
I get goosebumps just typing it out. At first I thought it was new dad emotions kicking in, but this is probably the 27th time talking/writing about this experience in some capacity, so I’d think that would have worn off by now.
Beyond just being so happy for the frustrated camper and the student who stood up for them (and their should-be-proud parents), it got me thinking about something we need to talk about more.
“Everyone learns differently.”
Every student can learn
Every student can learn...it’s just that the things they can learn and the way in which they learn them might be a little different than the next person. The speed they learn something is also different. The way they express what they know is different, and so on...
This isn’t a new observation, but it’s an important reminder we aren’t all cookie cutter robots just walking off the assembly line with the same parts and makeup.
It also points to the value of having the opportunity to learn in different atmospheres. Some kids are straight A students, but others might flourish in a one-on-one online tutoring capacity, in a small group at summer camp, or even just online on their own.
And in terms of what we learn? One can excel in math but have a little more trouble with something like English. Or, they might just struggle with all of the traditional school subjects, but when exposed to something like coding or robotics, they’re quick to pick up new skills.
Of course, some students are diagnosed with autism, ADHD, or other learning differences. While I don’t personally have experience parenting a child with these differences, I do talk to other parents, and we see a ton of kids go through our summer programs (50,000 students per summer!). I’ve heard coding is an ideal subject for LD students given its black or white nature, and have read that the rigor of programming and robotics makes for good experiences with ADHD students—given their gift to sustain energy through laborious tasks.
The fact that these disciplines are regularly used to solve real-world problems also plays into the creative nature of the ADHD camper. Our staff are also specially trained on how to keep students focused, and how to recognize when students need to take a break. We also teach them fun games to make sure students get a robust, balanced summer camp experience.
Anyway, I don’t intend for this to be an iD Tech advertisement—I’m just speaking to the facts I know and am close to, in order to show that school success/failure shouldn’t be the only gauge of a student’s capacity to learn.
And, as an adult, I’m still learning.
I’m learning that yeah, while kids can say the darndest things, they can also be incredible teachers of simple facts, reminding us that we all walk a different path.