By Victoria Greene
To understand educators, you must also understand the challenges they face, and you cannot accomplish that without taking a broad view of education across the world.
This is a difficult thing to achieve. By the time you reach adulthood, your view of what education means has been indelibly colored by your personal experiences, and it takes a great deal of thought to see beyond that narrow perspective.
One way to help ourselves with this is to think about the reasons why classroom experiences vary from region to region and country to country. Let’s look at some now.
Expectations Are Contextual
The demands placed on children differ based on location, through demand and precedent. What skills are considered valuable locally, or nationally? Does a classroom have a prevailing culture with a set of expected roles, or is it a melting pot?
In a rich area, children may be expected to eventually leave and become conventionally wealthy themselves. In a poor area, they may be expected to stay and look after their families. There are myriad exceptions, of course, but these things definitely play significant roles in determining what classrooms are like.
Languages Affect Discussions
The principle of linguistic relativity, often referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, postulates that the language systems we use affect how we think and view the world. Though I’m uncertain as to what degree that is the case, I absolutely agree that there is an effect.
But even if you believe otherwise, you must concede that the practicalities of different languages (both spoken and written) affect the pace and clarity that can be achieved while discussing particular topics, and thus lead to variations in classroom activities.
Available Resources Vary
In this digital age, the gulf in technology between classrooms can be enormous, but it isn’t only access to computers that varies. It’s resources in general, be they textbooks, compasses, uniforms, food, or anything else with which students can be provided.
The effects of resource availability are powerful, though not wholly consistent, affected as they are by the other factors we’ve looked at.
A child who is given plenty of supplies, but is not particularly driven might take them for granted and thus not benefit from them, for instance. Alternatively, a child given relatively little might flourish with a powerful motive behind them— to escape poverty, perhaps, or support their family.
Politics Get Involved
Every school answers to a governing body, and is ultimately regulated by government policies, whether local or national. Private schools are no exception, despite being independently funded. To schools in parts of the world with fairly lax attitudes to speech and opinions, this can sound like a matter of little significance, but that is mainly because of their relative fortune.
After all, there are parts of the world in which teachers are heavily restricted by the law in what they can teach or even talk about. In such places, awkward topics are avoided as a survival tactic, and curriculum-mandated approaches run closer to indoctrination.
There Is No Ideal Scholastic Setup
If there were one particular teaching method that worked better than any others, it would be adopted everywhere; but there isn’t. At least, there has been no grand unifying theory of teaching that fits every type of student (or teacher), no matter their background, nationality, language, resources, or expectation level.
So, in a very meaningful way, no two classrooms anywhere in the world will offer quite the same student experience. Each area must be considered in isolation with all of these factors taken into account.
Every Teacher Is Different
When trying to market to teachers, it’s essential to consider just how dramatically different their needs and problems can be as a result of the factors we’ve looked at. After all, segmentation is vital for creating effective value propositions.
But, you must also consider the extent to which personality plays a role. Try to also segment teachers by personal preference. What teaching styles are there? What class structures? Imagine a stoic stickler for the rules on one end of the spectrum and a freewheeling maverick on the other.
Equip yourself with as much information as possible about every element of the segment you’re targeting, from the circumstances of the children to the attitudes of the educators, and you’ll have the best chance of discovering how you can establish a real connection.
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who has extremely mixed memories of her time at school. You can read more of her work at her blog Victoria Ecommerce.