“Good, meaningful education meets each child where they are” are the words of the late Dr. Stanley Greenspan in his book, The Learning Tree. Stanley Greenspan won numerous awards for his work on developmental psychiatry and he was the author of 40 books (!) and numerous papers on development, learning, parenting and supporting children with autism. He is also well known for developing the Floortime approach for treating children with autism spectrum disorders.
Throughout his career, Dr. Greenspan was an enthusiastic advocate of personally connecting with children and personalizing approaches to learning and therapy. And keying off personal interests is the best way Dr. Greenspan knew of to engage a child emotionally and accelerate that child’s engagement with the learning at hand.
This approach wasn’t ever a quick means to an end, or a ploy to get a child to do something he’d rather not do. Rather, to Stanley Greenspan’s perception and his developmental schema, engaging a child emotionally and personally laid the foundation for initial cognitive development and, later, the development and refinement of executive functioning or higher thinking skills.
Dr. Stanley Greenspan leading a Floortime session. Having fun is part of the Floortime approach
In The Learning Tree, the book Dr. Greenspan wrote in 2010 just before he died he also wrote, “Children’s own interests will entice them to organize and expand their vocabulary and, eventually, concepts.”
In other words, Dr. Greenspan saw personalized learning as key to nurturing the broadest spectrum of learning, from math to social studies to language arts and all manner of social interaction.
Another hallmark of Stanley Greenspan’s approach to learning and therapy, including his Floortime program to engage developmentally delayed children, was to make sure it was fun.
As Personalized Learning movements are discussed and conceptualized across the continent, educators, administrators and parents can learn much from the legacy of this great man.
If you’d like to know more about Dr. Stanley Greenspan, head here.