Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Routine of Classroom Discrimination by Paul Kussrow in Zajda (Ch.6)

Reviewed by James Travers-Murison

UOCA is all about eliminating discrimination in the classroom to deliver the best teaching system possible. The yoga system will offer another form of behaviour technique to be incorporated into the multiple intelligences which enhance student learning and reduce subconscious discrimination by improving awareness. Kussrow in Zajda gives some interesting ideas in bringing this about.

Discrimination means the practice of making a difference in treatment or favour on a basis other than individual merit. We tend to filter out the reality of a situation in favour of our discriminatory assumptions.

Attempting to treat all learners the same results in the suppression of the individual’s intellectual development, self-esteem, and academic performance. This discriminates against biological, sexual, chronological and individual learning modalities.

Horace Mann

Horace formed the American education system which is based on the factory like Prussian system that is cheap and puts many kids in a class with one text. This discriminates against different individual learning styles.

Intellectual Discrimination

Schools discriminate to the logical mathematical and verbal linguistic intelligences. Gardner’s multiple intelligences are largely neglected discriminating against students that use other intelligences to learn. Careers lead to many areas that use these other intelligences that schools neglect.

Sex and age discrimination

We have a biological residue based on our genetic code and memory code. Neuroscience says:-

  1. The physical structure of the brain changes as the result of new experiences. The brain processes patterns of understanding.
  2. Girls brains are different. They have better verbal fluency, fine motor control, less aggression. Boys have better large muscle control, more sensitive to movement. Boys show earlier right hemisphere development. Women have better left hemisphere and larger corpus coliseums involved with transmission of information and visual movement. Boys have clearer representation of analytic and sequential thinking – spatial ability is lateralized.
  3. Development is unique to the individual and cannot be scheduled.

Mylenation of nerve cells making them faster occurs to about 20 and is highly variable.

So there are differences between and within the sexes and at different ages. Standardised curriculum is therefore fallacious.

Modality discrimination

The cerebral cortex contains higher order thinking skills of language reading and abstract thought as well as physical, visual, auditory and tactile areas. 30% are auditory, 40% visual and 15% tactile learners. Dunns says multisensory resources should be used starting with individuals most preferred modality then secondarily using others.

Let us celebrate diversity

Experiences shape our learning. Brain power comes from many channels simultaneously. Logical step by step learning inhibits the process. It is individualistic and needs positive nurturing and stimulating environment to develop brain’s hardware. Through diversity we grow regardless of culture race etc. Our diversity requires us to break our prejudice and discrimination in the classroom teaching.

Individual learning plans, flexible scheduling, contract learning and mutually developed learner competencies can avoid the past standardized method of teaching. Portfolios, collaborative demonstrations, skill performances can replace exams. This should positively accommodate all modalities of learning and eliminate discrimination.


This gave some good ideas for avoiding discriminating in the classroom and being aware of the 7 intelligences of learning and the need to address them, in particular the fact that in general 40% of all students are visual learners so teaching by lecturing would be very ineffective for them. I particularly appreciate the final conclusion where suggestions are made as to how to incorporate this mode of learning in the classroom for instance by flexible scheduling and individual learning plans, however I feel this would have been better if it had focused on the means of creating this individual learning by giving practical examples. As it is I think it would be very time consuming to implement having 5 classes of 25 kids. 125 plans?! Some sort of streamlining possibly using computerisation may get round this.

Teaching meditation and yoga postures to students and incorporating this into the school day, together with a more individualistic and self disciplined flexible system should reduce discrimination against student's differing learning modalities. In particular because it addresses the need for other more physical techniques to be incorporated into academic learning. Spiritual techniques of self realisation that have been known for millenniums in both West and East.


Zajda, J. (ed.) Learning and Teaching. Melbourne: James Nicholas Pub.

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