Schools must try to prevent pupils from running into difficulties in the course of their school work. Content, working methods and organization must therefore be designed so as to be readily adjustable to the individuality of different pupils. Local decision-making powers, vested in the individual school, the work unit and the class, concerning subject matter, working methods and work procedures, are therefore essential in order for a school to discharge its duties successfully.
If a pupil encounters difficulties in the course of his (or her) school work, consideration must be given to the possibility of altering school working methods. Teaching must be planned so as to permit a variable working method. The liberty which a school enjoys in the deployment of resources and regarding methods and the selection of subject matter provides good opportunities of this type of preventive work.
Pupils with differing dispositions and interests must be able to experience school work as something capable of furthering their own development. Schools must offer variegated contents. Pupils must be allowed to participate in planning. And they must be able to choose different fields of study which are relevant to goals and main teaching items. Free options account for roughly one third of all school time at senior level. While at junior and intermediate levels time can be reserved for project studies. In certain cases assignments of this kind can be made to last longer for some pupils than for others.
At the same time one must be alive to the conflict which often exists between the current. Schools must prepare pupils adequately for future working life and for future studies, for example in the form of recurrent education. Total adjustment to the pupils’ spontaneous interests can result in their encountering great difficulties when they come to enter working life or continue their studies, in which case their school difficulties are converted into impediments later on in life.
It therefore remains the task -and a difficult task -of teachers to try to steer the pupils’ spontaneous desire for knowledge into important fields. and to utilize their practical vocational orientation together with conversations and interviews as a means of getting them to realize the value of different types of knowledge and skill. Schools must not isolate school work from the life of the community by making all activities freely chosen work, otherwise the pupils will suffer a shock when they come up against the demands which life involves. Gaps in elementary knowledge can result in lifelong social or psychological helplessness. Lack of previous knowledge tends to make pupils regard themselves as ‘untalented’, in which case schools help to accentuate social inequalities.
It is above all necessary for basic training in the skills of speech, reading, writing and arithmetic to be conducted consistently and with determination. Shortcomings with regard to these skills aggravate school difficulties at higher levels. Boundaries between school levels must not be allowed to constitute boundaries regarding the practice of skills. Continuous reading instruction, for example, must be available to pupils at any level.
As stated earlier, working methods must also be adapted to suit different pupils. Methods with an excessively verbal emphasis are particularly prejudicial to many pupils. Work based entirely on written material and written instructions gives an advantage to pupils whose ambition and educational motivation makes them less dependent on personal and emotional contact with a teacher for the maintenance of their endeavor. On the other hand it can very easily cause difficulties for pupils without these qualifications. Extensive scope must instead be allotted to investigatory elements in the natural and social environment and also to practical tasks. Methods of this kind are greatly facilitated by different teachers co-operating in teaching teams.