Should Education Adapt or Adopt?

AIf you could choose only one, would you choose to adapt or to adopt?

Merriam-Webster defines adapt as to make fit often by modification and adopt as to take up and practice or use.

One letter off in each word. Both are transitive verbs. But one is to make and the other is to take.

Is it better to make or to take in education?

Innovative education is adaptive. It is ever changing, modifying, and developing into something entirely different.

Let’s use multiplication facts as an example. A student can listen to the teacher recite multiplication tables for 3s: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, etc. The student can write the list of 3s down. The student can recite and rewrite the 3s until they have have it memorized and can fly through their 3s. We can say that these students have TAKEN the instruction.

But does take equal internalization? Can they explain why 3 times 7 is 18 to someone else?

Caught ya! 3 times 7 is 21, not eighteen. But why?

If instead the students use manipulatives to create 3 times 7 equals 21, and then they repeat the experiment with different objects over and over again, will they discover that 3 times 7 of anything and everything will always equal 21 because when we add up three groups of 7 we will always count 21 total?

Which method will students be able to explain and teach to someone else? The information that they can adapt or the information they simply adopt?

Adaptive teaching, changing our instruction to meet students’ needs, is imperative to helping students internalize new concepts and content.

What have you done in the past week that has been adaptive?

Additional Resources:

How to Adapt Your Teaching Strategies to Student Needs

Adaptive Learning: Are We There Yet?

10 Best Math Tools for Middle School

Fostering Adaptive Teaching Across Reading Dimensions

10 Innovative Learning Strategies For Modern Pedagogy

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Blog Challenge. My posts this year will be about innovative teaching strategies.

A: Adapt




  • A subject near and dear to my heart. My son has Down syndrome and so I am doing a LOT of adapting, although I know you mean that word a little differently from how I am doing it.

    I certainly want my students to be able to explain the why of things, but boy howdy, there are plenty of kids for whom that method is just almost impossible to teach.

    I’m blogging this month focusing on parenting the above-mentioned son (11yo). I look forward to reading your posts this month!

    • I’m so glad you could relate. Adapting in education (school or home) is necessary to do what’s best for students! I’m checking out your blog right now. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  • In business, sometimes it is “easier” to adopt another business to get a quick entry point in a new market. For example, if I wanted to get into the vacuum cleaning business, it would be faster for me to purchase an existing company than to ‘adapt’ and learn the business.

    In regards to education, adapting has a sense of ‘learning’ as opposed to rote memory.

    This is a good topic to think about! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Paul! You are correct that it is easier to adopt many times. However, everything can be improved with adaption. So even if we adopt something initially, we will have to adapt it as time marches on or we will become obsolete. Think about Blockbuster Videos.

  • I’m all about adapting, innovating, and differentiating. This is how we bring home the toughest concepts so kids can truly grow!

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond. It means so much!

      If we continue to do what we’ve always done, we’ll continue to get what we’ve always go. It’s time to go deeper!

  • I’m looking forward to adopting or adapting your information during the next 30+ days. Go deeper finally!

  • Having an adult son who has Down syndrome, I often say that I wish his teachers had adapted more to his learning style than they did. I can certainly show any one of them how he can learn just about anything if it’s put to music. Great start to The Challenge! Good luck!

    • Stephanie,

      When my daughter was in preschool, the teachers realized what we already knew. At three we could have put calculus to a catchy tune and she would be able to retain and apply the information.

      There is so much to be said for learning each individual student’s learning style.

      Thank you so much for dropping in to read and comment!!!!

  • I agree that the adaptive method is much better as once you understand the why of something, it’s much more likely to stick