Education Empowerment

Temple Grandin Highlights Our Need for Customizable Education

In her 2022 book Visual Thinking, author and Colorado State University professor Temple Grandin explains that there are different kinds of intelligence. One child may excel at mathematical thinking, while another excels at abstract thinking. Grandin contends that traditional measures of intelligence, as measured by standardized testing and top-down curricula, fail students.

According to Grandin, children learn better and more when education suits their individual learning styles.

Temple Grandin.

The Limits of One-Size-Fits-All Education

Grandin, herself a visual thinker, stated in a recent interview with Utah Public Radio, “We’ve got just a one-size-fits-all in education. I’m very concerned that our educational system is screening out a lot of the visual thinkers because we’re really terrible at abstract math.”

If a child struggles with abstract math, they are not doomed to suck at it. Rather than lower expectations, children can succeed if we move expectations to fit their learning style. For example, there’s more than one way to teach a visual learner how to do complex math. We simply need to meet them where they’re at.

“What they ought to do with people like me is replace algebra with something else. Accounting or business math or maybe let them jump to geometry,” she stated.

Grandin has a point. We have evidence that less than half of Utah students are proficient in mathematics, according to the state’s own measurement system. Luckily, a solution is on the horizon for Utahns.

Studies say Utah students are falling behind, showing a decline in math.

Growing Prospects in Utah’s Education

The Utah Education Fits All Scholarship, which goes into effect this year, will allow parents to choose the best education for their children.

It will soon be easier than ever for parents to customize their children’s education to meet their individual needs.

The rise of microschools provides a variety of options to fit each family. A few of these include:

    • Breakout School provides education for students with autism or ADHD.
    • Family Lyceum is a micro-school hybrid supplement for children who want to spend 2-3 days per week in the classroom.
    • Heron School is ideal for students who are “twice exceptional,” meaning they have above average intelligence and a learning disability.
    • The rise of homeschooling is becoming more attainable for parents.

Emily Niehaus, founder of Heron School, said in a recent interview, “One thing is clear — whether we are developing solutions for affordable housing or education — it is unrealistic to expect one approach to solve all needs. A healthy forest has a variety of trees.”