Sunday, February 10, 2013

Different but not Less

Retrieved Feb. 10, 2013 from here
Task 3 in the Neuroscience in Education session caught all my attention this week (4th). This is the first time to hear about Temple Grandin. Googling this name, I found her an autistic scientist, professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, designer of livestock handling facilities, consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, inventor of the "squeeze machine," a system which tightly hugs people to relieve stress, bestselling author, speaker and more. Although she is an autistic person, she found her way to excel and innovate using her gifts and special visual thinking skills. The questions that come to my mind while reading about her are "Who is behind her success? Who pushed her to do all these things? What kind of motivation she has; inner or something comes from outside?"

You can also see this video here
Many things have become clear after watching the video segment above. Thanks so much to the Neuroscience team for selecting these scenes and adding the subtitles. These touching scenes encouraged me to search for the whole movie to find out the whole story of this great woman.If you are interested, please click here to download it. 

Here is what I have found:

Role of the Parents: 

Temple's mother refused to believe that her girl wouldn't speak. She ignored doctors' recommendations to have her institutionalized as a response to her delayed development. She did her best to teach her. And above all, she managed to instil in her girl that she was different but not less. Temple's mother played a very important role in her entire life. She kept pushing her all the time to make use of her different way of thinking. Just imagine for a moment if this mother gave up and sent her baby to an institution  

Role of the Teachers:

 We are not just teachers. We have to play all the roles to find out our students' abilities and gifts. The science teacher (Dr. Carlock) who encouraged Temple to go a head is a great model to follow. He looked at his student from the bright side. He tried to find her strength and reinforced it by providing her challenges that can match her visual thinking. He also guided and taught her how to decide, to choose, to open new doors and to build self-confidence in herself. This teacher successfully managed to reach his students.  

Role of the Self:

The role of parents and teachers is of a paramount importance for every student. However, unless a student is intrinsically motivated, he/she can't succeed. It is the inner power of Temple that made her a great success. She wanted to prove her excellence and creativity not by words but through deeds. She even created her own ways to adapt with the new people she meets or situations she faces.The "squeeze machine" is an example to relieve her stress. Her inner voice is another great tool she used to encourage herself to achieve more and new goals. I think that she succeeded to know herself well.  

To sum up,
Retrieved Feb. 10, 2013 from here
Every student is unique. They can be creative in a number of ways. Being a handicap in some areas doesn't mean that they have nothing at all. As teachers, it is our job to help parents find their children's special gifts and make use of them. I know that it is so difficult to do this job in a class of 60 students. However, technology now provides a lot of tools that help us to analyze students and their capabilities easily. Creating a Facebook group or an Edmodo class that allows students to talk to their teachers can be a starting point for discovering what they have. Spending some time with students and listening to them will make it easy to know how their brains work and how they think. It is not a practical way to ask teachers to find a special approach for each student in the class. I just want teachers to teach their students to be more strategic, to find their own way to store and process information, to create products using tools that match their way of thinking and so forth. In short, "teachers open the door, but students must enter by themselves" as the proverb says.  

More about Temple Grandin:
  1. Dr. Temple Grandin – Bio - A Growing Culture  
  2. Temple Grandin: Biography 
  3. Temple Grandin Quotes - BrainyQuote 


Lori Holcomb said...

Once again a great post Azhar. Thanks for reminding me of Temple Grandin and her story. I watched the film about her life. She is truly an inspiration. You make several relevant connections to teaching.Plenty of food for thought.

Azhar Youssef said...

Dear Lori,
Thanks so much for passing by. This woman amazed me by her persistence and strong will. Students now badly need such great models to learn from how to excel and overcome challenges.

Best Regards!

Carole Fuller said...

Yes, I agree with you that helping our students with self-reflection, and understanding the best ways that they learn, is something valuable that we as teachers can help them with. I am working with several teachers at the moment on applying Learning Strategies theory in our classes, and a large part of that is helping students become more aware of which strategies they prefer. As Lori said, much food for thought!

Azhar Youssef said...

Dear Carole,
Thanks so much for your comment. Self-reflection or reflective thinking is really an important skill that we should introduce to the students. I know it is not an easy skill to learn, but as you know "Practice Makes Perfect". I congratulate you on training other teachers to use strategies with their students. It is one of the 21st century skills to teach students to be self-directed who are able to choose what matches their abilities and capabilities that we might not a ware of.

All the best!

Neuroscience and Education said...

Great post Azhar!!!You made very interesting observations on Temple Grandin's life. I also agree that those "ingredients" such as the role of parents and teachers are fundamental.
Getting to know our students brains and feelings seems to be the key!!!!

Azhar Youssef said...

Dear Marta,
Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Yes, I strongly agree that we have to well know our students' potential and how their brains work before we start teaching them. This information will help us to create an optimal learning environment for them to learn better.

Happy to be part of this session!

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Azhar Youssef said...

Thanks so much for your nice comment and encouragement. This theme is completely free. I just played with the colors and fonts available. Google is always a great choice for most people.

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Mary H said...

Your post shows thoughtfulness and reflection, and gives readers plenty to consider. It has been a pleasure learning about the brain with you during this session!

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Lori Fredenberg said...

Thanks for this bit on Temple Grandin, a woman of remarkable talents. She has been on my radar for many years.

Azhar Youssef said...

Dear Mary,
Thanks so much for your great session. It will be a starting point for me to integrate some of the Neuroscience principles into my teaching in the coming lessons.

Azhar Youssef said...

Thanks so much Lori for dropping by. Actually, Temple Gradin is a new topic for me. I consider her as a model for me and other teachers to follow. How is Diffimooc? I couldn't complete it because I have many things to do at the same time.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
Best Regards!

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Azhar Youssef said...

Thanks so much for your encouraging words. I'm so happy to know that you like reading my posts.

Best Regards!