“There Is No Such Thing As An Abstract Student: Sukhomlinsky Speaks To Teachers

Alan Cockerill, who is the leading supporter and promulgator of Vasilii Sukhomlinsky’s educational philosophy in the English-speaking world,  has recently translated some chapters from Sukhomlinsky’s seminal work:  One Hundred Pieces of Advice for Teachers.  I include an excerpt that Alan published in one of his newsletters:

“Imagine that all the seven-year-old children commencing grade one were required to complete exactly the same physical work, carrying water for example.  One is already exhausted after carrying five buckets, while another can manage twenty. If you force the weaker child to carry twenty buckets it will overstrain them.  The next day they will not be able to do anything and may end up in the hospital.  Children’s capacity for intellectual work is just as varied.  One understands, makes sense of things and remembers things easily, storing them in their long-term memory.  Another experiences intellectual work completely differently, taking in the material very slowly, and storing knowledge in their memory for only a short time;  though it often happens that the slower student achieves more significant success in their studies and in their intellectual development than the one who found it easier to study in the beginning.  There is no such thing as an abstract student to whom we can mechanically apply guidelines for instruction and education.  There are no prerequisites for ‘success in study’ that are the same for all students.  And the very concept of ‘success in study’ is relative:  for one success in study means getting an ‘A’, while for another a ‘C’ is a major achievement.  The ability to determine what each student is capable of at a given point in time, and work out how to develop their intellectual capabilities further, is an exceptionally important component of educational wisdom.”

Note:  Alan Cockerill’s Sukhomlinsky page is located at:http://theholisticeducator.com/sukhomlinsky