Friday, January 16, 2015

Year 5: Week 18 – The Needs Of The Many

Spock: Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh...
Kirk: The needs of the few.
Spock: Or the one.
Decisions we make as a teacher are complicated. There’s always a trade-off, a drawback to a decision that is made in a classroom. For example, when you schedule an extra-curricular group in the morning, some students may not be able to make it because they cannot get a ride to the school. If you have the group meet after school, then other students will not be able attend because of sports practices.

In these situations we weigh the needs of the many against the few. Right? Choose the time that most kids can show up and go with that option. Unfortunately, it’s really not that simple.

Our country is built on the idea that there is a voting majority, however this way of decision making must be tempered with the a responsibility to make choices that are not only best for the majority but for minorities as well. The majority unfortunately often overlooks the rights of the few. It was the majority that put American citizens who were of Japanese descent in internment camps and it was the majority who voted in many states to outlaw marriage equality.

We as teachers are in an important place.  Every day we make decisions for our children that need to respect the our students as a group but also consider the needs of minorities. When we give a lecture, some students may need to have notes printed out beforehand because they aren’t as good auditory learners. If a student in the class has hearing issues every time we watch a film, the subtitles need to be turned on. If a student in the class has allergy issues, birthday treats we give the entire class should accommodate for that students.

As Spock concluded, it is not logical that one or a few should have an impact on the way that many have to operate in a classroom. This logic is faulty because it assumes that by addressing the needs of a minority of students, the majority doesn’t benefit. The reality is that they do.

The majority of students benefit when the treat they get is absent from allergens that may harm one of their classmates. They see that everyone is getting the same treat.  Also, they see that this one students who has an allergy isn’t all that different and that the things that could divide us can be overcome.

When we make choices so that all of our students can feel included, safe and part of a community, we are placing value in each student's experience. This value calls into question not how the needs of the many out weight the few but rather how can we best address each students as a learner and a human being. Sometimes we go with what’s best for the most kids, but more often we think of the few, and the one. Through empathy and care we find by serving the needs of that one we are enriching the souls of all.

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