Thursday, March 23, 2017

The reshaping of education in the US. Why should I care?


Now, why, as a 60 year old, should I care? 
I'm retired.
My own children are out of K-12 school.
I should care because
a) I pay for the kids in the area to go to school.
b) I want an education for them that is something they will use
not just warehouse them for 12 years.

In the last 100 years, public education in the US has not really changed.
Yes, there have been different standards
but the delivery model has been the same.
Teachers are the "sage on the stage".
Student, in turn, would walk out the door after nine or thirteen years,
and be ready to be told what to do by a supervisor.
One way, "my way".

Then came computers.
Schools have, basically, stayed the same.
I pulled out a "newspaper"  Navajo class did in 1998.
Those cute Macs were used.
I was totally the sage on the stage for that project.

Basic information is now obtainable.
With help, students could find out "more" about almost anything.
I am a history teacher by trade. Do I know about every aspect of the world's history? Do I even know everything about US History?  Do I know everything there is to know about the 2000's?
Being the sage on the stage was silly.
Teachers should be the "guide on the side".

My opinion after thirty years in K-8 settings, four "one more class to finish" Masters and three years of working with 700 schools?

Primary should be totally ungraded and untested until the end of third grade. Children learn to read and manipulate numbers at such different paces. There should be a huge variation in types of books in the room (forget libraries). Math needs to be touched and moved so it is understood. (Why teach area if we don't look for a run that fits a place).  By the end of third grade children should be able to read, do the basic math facts (+,-,x,/), and know how to write/ word process.

The wealthy figured this out years ago. My son had this overseas in amazing International schools. Sites like this filled his day after he learned to read, http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/menu.html

Fourth through eighth grade should be about teams. Give kids problems to solve and give them computers. Go. They will seek out the knowledge they need- via Ted talks or the teacher or Google.  They each work on the problem and come up with solutions. Then join the team at the end of the period and look at how to do it. Average and above average should be able to do it easily. Lower average need more support (usually in the basics).

At this point, I am describing Common Core. This is the way Obama learned at Punahou in Hawaii. The problem is that the current K-3 setting pulls kids into the 4-8 model. Once kids hit 4-8, they do not know their basics, so they feel like failures. They should be placed back into basics until they are ready- hence the one room school house worked well.

Those who fight against change are comfortable.
They receive money for the books they sale or the children they teach.
They may care, deeply. Still, it is time to change.

1 comment:

Practical Parsimony said...

When my mother entered school, she was in a class for grades one and two. The teacher said she learned all the second grade work and knew it. She went directly from first to third grade.