Researchers from National Tsing Hua University and Academia Sinica last month jointly published an article in the journal Communications Biology titled “Potential cross-species correlations in social hierarchy and memory between mice and young children.”
The study found that preschool children with better memory tend to obtain a higher social status when they grow up. In group interactions, children with better memory also have greater social skills.
The findings also showed that dominant children treat dominant and subordinate children differently, as they often adopt a soft approach when dealing with the former and a hard approach with the latter. Such findings allow educators and parents to make associations and adopt appropriate practices.
Teachers’ characters and attitudes vary, and all teachers can hardly be expected to be “humanitarians.” A few teachers might uphold a kind of Darwinist approach, believing that education is about eliminating the weak and promoting the strong.
From the researchers’ findings, preschool children with better memory do have an advantage. In that case, the practices of teachers and schools are highly important.
I remember when my oldest child started kindergarten. Since he did not go to school until he was five years old and the babysitter did not provide any guidance in advance, he had no basic skills in reading, writing or counting at the beginning. The teacher suspected that he was a “slow student.”
Teachers might often categorize students with poor memory as slow learners. If there is no special arrangement for active and positive learning opportunities during in-class interactions, such children could lag behind their peers all the way from kindergarten.
The purpose of schooling should be to allow each child to develop appropriately, not giving up on anyone, but helping all students find their developmental goals. This would give them a chance to find self-fulfillment and achieve some degree of success in their pursuits. Schools should never descend to favoring the advantaged or impeding social mobility.
The primary task of teachers should be to develop a student’s potential carefully and patiently, and to guide them to the utmost of their ability. Especially given the low birthrate today, when all children are precious to their parents, teachers have an even greater responsibility.
The classroom must be a friendly learning environment, not “killing fields” for students thought to be “slow.” This is the classroom management ability teachers must possess.
Chen Chi-nung is principal of Shuili Junior High School in Nantou County.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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