When we see a jogger off in the distance, our brain fills in the gaps. We don't imagine a red-haired giant, wearing a chartreuse jumpsuit and a Cameron Diaz smile. No, at this distance, we fill in the gaps with our prototype runner, a standard runner, the runner we always use when we imagine a runner. To do anything else seems a waste of time and effort.
As we get closer, reality intrudes. This isn't an archetype, it's an actual person. Short, perhaps, or with just one leg, or limping or wearing street clothes. On close inspection, just about everybody is weird.When we plan curriculum for students (read: doing curriculum to kids), we see them off in the distance, allowing our brains to fill in the gaps. We don't imagine the dyslexic kid who needs to be the primary caregiver for his siblings while his single mom works the night shift, the adolescent who spent the weekend in crisis stabilization in a psychiatric assessment unit at the local hospital or the teenager who can't sit in a desk for 10 minutes but spends hours in the backyard meticulously mastering their snapshot.
As we get closer to our kids, it becomes disturbingly clear that normal is a myth.
There is no cookie-cutter kid. No archetype student. All kids are human which makes them inherently weird -- and good thing too because diversity is what get's us through the day.
The best educators get what it means to say that every teacher is inexperienced with each new group of students. They get that prefabricated, content-bloated curriculums, pacing guides and laminated lesson plans are the definitive way to pretend to teach.
Upon closer inspection, almost every learner is weird and it's time school took the time to address their weird needs.