Causes of Individual Differences
There are various causes which are responsible in bringing individual differences.
Some hereditary traits bring a change from one individual to other. An individual’s height, size, shape and color of hair, shape of face, nose, hands and legs so to say the entire structure of the body is determined by his hereditary qualities. Intellectual differences are also to a great extent influenced by hereditary factor.
Environment significantly influences individual differences. Changes in child’s environment are reflected in the changes in his personality. Psychologically speaking, a person’s environment consists of sum total of stimulation which he receives from conception until his death.
Environment consists of physical, intellectual, social, moral, political, economic and cultural forces. All these forces cause individual differences. Modern psychologists believe that individual differences are caused by both heredity and environment. Personality is the outcome of mutual interaction between heredity and environment.
iii. Influence of caste, race and nation:
Individuals of different castes and races exhibit very marked differences. It is generally seen that son of a Kshatriya has a more of courage in him while the son of a trader has the traits of business.
Similarly individuals of different nations show differences in respect of their personality, character and mental abilities. These are the outcome of their geographical, social and cultural environment. Many studies have shown the existence of differences between Americans and Negroes, Chinese and Japanese, English and Indian individuals.
iv. Sex differences:
Development of boys and girls exhibits differences due to difference in sex. The physical development of the girl takes place a year or two earlier than the boys. Between the age of 11 and 14, girls are taller and heavier than the boys. After 15, boys start winning the race.
Girls are kind, affectionate, sympathetic and tender while the boys are brave, hard, choleric, efficient and competent.
Age is another factor which is responsible in bringing individual differences. Learning ability and adjustment capacity naturally grow with age. When one grows in age can acquire better control over our emotions and better social responsibilities. When a child grows then this maturity and development goes side by side.
vi. Economic condition and education
Individual differences are caused by economic condition of the parents and the education of the children. It is not possible for the children of two economic classes to have a similarity and equality.
vii. Temperament and emotional stability:
Some people are by temperament active and quick, while others are passive and slow, some humorous and others short tempered. Emotional stability of the individual is differently affected by physical, mental and environmental factors. Differences in emotional stability cause individual differences.
viii. Other Causes:
Interests, aptitudes, achievements, sentiments, character, educational and home background lead to individual differences.
Accommodating Individual Differences in Schools and Classrooms
To provide adequate schooling or learning experiences for every learner according to his individuality is not a simple task. However, the following suggestions can prove helpful for the teacher in this direction.
i. Proper knowledge of the Individual’s Potentialities
The first step in making provisions for the individual differences is to know about the abilities, capacities, interests, aptitudes and other personality traits of the individual pupils. For this purpose, help from intelligence test, cumulative record card, interest inventories, attitude scales, aptitude tests and measures for assessing personality traits should be taken.
ii. Ability Grouping
In the light of the results derived from various tests of knowing individual differences in terms of individual potentialities in various dimensions, the students in a class or area of activity can be divides into homogeneous groups. Such division can prove beneficial in adjusting the method of instruction to varying individual differences.
iii. Adjusting the curriculum
To meet the requirement of varying individual differences among the pupils, curriculum should be as flexible and differentiated as possible. It should have the provision for a number of diversified courses and co-curricular experiences so that the pupils may get opportunity to study and work in the areas of their own interests and abilities. It should provide adjustment to suit the local requirements and potentialities of students of different groups.
iv. Adjusting the methods of teaching
To make provision for the varying individual differences, adjustment with regard to the adaptation of methods of teaching is also most essential. Every teacher should be somewhat free to formulate his own plan and strategy and adapt instructional procedure which he finds most suited to the particular types of pupils under him. He should try to follow a different procedure or method of instruction suiting the requirements of varying ability groups of his pupils.
v. Adopting special programmes or methods for individualizing instruction
Schools may also adopt special programmes or methods of teaching like Dalton plan, the Winnetka plan, the Project Method or use programmed learning material for enabling the students to learn with their own individual pace.
vi. Other measures of individualizing instruction
For the purpose of individualizing instruction a few practical measures can also prove beneficial.
a) The student strength of the class or section should be made as small as possible.
b) The teacher should try to pay individual attention to the group under instruction.
c) The teacher should keep in view the individual difference of his students while engaging them in drill or practice work in the class-room or assigning home-task.
d) In case where ability grouping is not possible and more specifically under the prevalent system of class teaching, special coaching and guidance programme for both the dull and the gifted children are most helpful.
Thus, the problem of individual differences can be tackled with multi-dimensional tasks. The teacher, scho ol authorities, the parents and the Government as well as voluntary agencies –all should join hands to meet the individual requirements of children who possess tremendous individual differences.