The Quote that speaks volumes to me is this one, a Chinese proverb. Old, yet, young, and still speaks so many volumes about not only teaching, but special needs teaching. It encapsulates the essence of how autistic students should be taught.
‘Tell me and I forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I understand’
Where do I start with this quote. It sums up all of teaching, in those few simple words. Teaching used to be ‘learn by rote’. Then it evolved, and students become more involved in their learning. From there, students were encouraged to take charge of their own learning, as teaching methods evolved over time.
Nowadays, we seem to be going backwards. Governments seem intent of returning to the old ‘memory test’ style way of gaining qualifications, excluding many special needs students, who excel through DOING not listening. If you were to stop and think yourself for a moment:
You want to learn a new skill.
You read about it. does that make you a master?
You read about it, then give it a go, does that make you a master?
You read about it, practice it, apply it across many situations and in different ways. Does that make you a master?
Autistic students have their learning opportunities compounded by the fact that their brains are hard wired in slightly different a way. One of these elements alone will not secure learning. In fact, for an autistic student, the act of involvement, practical skills is the ONLY way to secure learning.
Now think about all other special needs students, in fact, all other students in general. Yes, they would ALL benefit in some way from this type of approach.
This is a quote I live by, and one that I constantly refer to as a way of checking whether my skills are still being affective.
Am I involving them? no? Then they are not learning.