This teacher asks, how can we show that we really care about children?
How to SAVE A LIFE?
Donate Blood. Donate a kidney (pretty easy now) or work to STOP ABORTION.
If we really cared about saving lives one needs to ask themselves, what are we doing to work towards this?
Right, forcing women to have more kids that they can’t afford/don’t want will certainly solve all our nation’s problems, especially those associated with poverty.
Exactly. we care about children SO much that we want women to have a choice and not be required to bring unwanted children into the world they cannot afford to raise.
I don’t think we do care about children. If we did, we wouldn’t create a world where senators, representatives, presidents, and bankers destroy the lives of the citizens they are supposed to be representing, and then get away scot-free to retire in luxury.
One community in my state lost a high school senior this week. Although the news agencies cannot report the circumstances of his death, the kids in his community know he took his own life. Witnesses to his last day’s testimony claim he was sending messages all that day referring to his fear of finding out his results of a standardized test. Word has it he was the kind of kid that had everything going for him: He was a star athlete with countless friends–a real outgoing and kind person. While it’s entirely possible that there was a laundry list of private issues, his feelings about failing a state test put him over the edge. How could we have reached this young man to convince him that his life was so much more than a test?
So very, very sad. I remember about 15 years agohere in oursmall town a little boy (elementary age) ran away from home because of his fear of “the test”.
Life is full of tests and some are necessary but for a child to feel so threatened by a test or its result that he leaves the safety of his home or his life on this earth, well that is tragic.
I feel that I am constantly trying to protect my students from insanity that is in education today. Yes, I have to give certain assessments, but I try hard to downplay them as much as possible. No need to have the kids hear me read from the script, “This is a test to determine…” I prefer, “hey, let’s see what you know about….” Most years my scores are good and some years they are not. A lot has to do with the families these children come from as well as class size, i.e., circumstances beyond my control. I will no longer participate in educational malpractice.
“*Make government agencies and health care providers accountable for working in conjunction with schools to help students who are exhibiting special needs.”
I agree with the concept, but the word “accountable” has been so abused that it sends shivers down my spine. I see The Powers That Be responding to something like this by implementing a whole new batch of tests and meaningless paperwork that won’t help the kids but which will bury those who are trying to help them.
“Make time in the curriculum for character development”.
Again, agreed in theory, but “character development” has also been abused. I envision more “be nice, work hard” type pep rallies.
The language thread that Diane posted above is crucial. The “reformers” have taken over language. If we’re going to use their language, we have to fight to redefine it (or, rather, return it to its original meanings). Otherwise, we have to come up with our own new language, because we’re getting butchered playing on their turf.
The “reformers” certainly have usurped our language. “Work hard. Be nice.” is the slogan of the military style KIPP charters and what that, along with “character education” really mean today comes down to “always comply and don’t question authority.”
I’m not sure about the “pep rallies.” Previously, there were debates regarding character education vs. moral education, Moral education teaches students problem-solving and conflict resolution skills for addressing moral dilemmas, whereas character education involves indoctrination, which involves memorizing and repeating slogans, mantras and scripts.
In the short run, you may get compliance, but in the long run, I don’t think indoctrination is necessarily effective. I went to a military style middle school and, upon request (which was often), I had to repeat a preordained script which included something to the effect of, “I am going to be perfect”, I complied during those years, but I began to build resentment.
Then, as a teen who knew that I was never going to be perfect, I seriously rebelled. I don’t know how I would have ended up if, it was not for later teachers who helped me to find a renewed passion for learning and belief in my abilities, even though I will never be perfect. They were also instrumental in my realization that I had the freedom to follow my own moral code, which an Ethics course helped me to establish, after reviewing many options proffered by philosophers and religious leaders.
As a teacher, I implemented moral education. I taught conflict resolution skills to Kindergartners, which included using “I-Messages” to help children learn how to express their feelings in socially appropriate ways. It was so effective in my classroom that my students then used those strategies on the playground, to help even younger children resolve social disputes. Needless to say, I prefer moral education over character education.
Children are simply not a priority in the US. We’ve proven that time and time again, from No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, to ignoring the highest child poverty rate among “rich” nations.
Meanwhile test makers get rich, politicians get rich, rich people get richer…and billionaires are complicit in the selling of America’s public education.
The US has become the nation of “I’ve got mine…you get your own.”
Actually in a social sense, “some” children are not a high priority. Children living in neighborhoods with gun violence see things every day that children should ever see. They themselves are at risk of getting hurt or killed, and many do. Does a country mourn for them or does a country only care when crime “isn’t supposed to happen in a certain town?” Does Anderson Cooper set up camp for a week on their streets? Please don’t interpret my words incorrectly–I don’t know how anyone could not have been affected by the tragedy of nine days ago (I myself cried again last night), but there are so many children that this country ignores living in social conditions that would mar anyone’s psyche let alone those at their most impressionable time in life. These are children, and they are treated like statistics.
Now let’s give them all standardized tests and punish them for their scores as if their life learning curve is identical to those living in those “other towns.”
That should read “never see.” (Darn you, auto-correct.)
I have been struck by the condemnation of requiring students to pass exams dispite having I different learning curves in many posts here and the approval of having students in the same classes (and presumably taking the same exams in those classes) no matter where the students are in the learning curve. Do you see those two positions as compatable?
I think a “nature vs. nurture” argument would get in the way of a valid discussion on this topic.
I am a little confused by this reply. If common exams outside of a class are distructive, I would think common exams within a class would also be destructive. I do not understand how the “nature vs nuture” discussion plays a role.
“I have been struck by the condemnation of requiring students to pass exams dispite having I different learning curves in many posts here and the approval of having students in the same classes (and presumably taking the same exams in those classes) no matter where the students are in the learning curve. Do you see those two positions as compatable?”
My father used to say, “A good student can and still will learn even with a poor teacher, but a poor student may never learn no matter how good a teacher he has.” While I agree with that statement, it does not solve the issue of how to reach the “poor student”–it simply places responsibility on the student himself to learn. In order to turn the tide for the “poor student,” one must take into account the variables that affect student performance.
If a student’s performance is affected by nature (mental/chemical), that student’s needs can be met with a more personalized approach, i.e. special education and special services. Another nature affectation stems from the student’s learning style, affinity for a specific type of learning and brain-wiring. Some of these attributes are inherent (nature), and some can be influenced through experiences in the formative years (nurture). For instance, researcher Edwin Gordon has found that a child’s musical intellectual capacity can improve up until the age of nine (on average) with musical training. After that, Gordon asserts, only skill can improve since the child’s so-called “talent” or musical aptitude is at its full capacity. A music gene has also been discovered in other research. So with children from birth to age nine, nature and nurture are both influencing the musical intellect.
When trying to determine which students have the capacity for what are considered by the powers-that-be as “important” subjects and skill-sets, one often forgets to take the purpose of education into account. The act of relying on standardized testing to quantify learning is not without its own caveats. Some use “standards” as the quintessential model of what education ought to achieve. There are many issues with the standardization model that need to be considered. Black-and-white, over-simplified arguments about who should learn what with whom often do not accomplish much more than segregation of learners based on a narrow view of why we seek to educate anyone in the first place. One example of this narrow view is the current governmental preoccupation with STEM subjects (remember Sputnik?).
The attainment of standards and goals, while important as points-of-reference, proves only that the knowledge and skill sets of said goals are reached. In the case of standardized tests, these standards are often quite narrow and measure only specific types of learning and subject matter knowledge. On the other side of the coin, standards can be so convoluted that using them is an attempt to measure everything with such specific detail that they are nearly impossible to reach, such as in the case of the common core standards. So the first question to ask is: What matters? The second question: Who decides?
Generally, the first question is answered by a specific faction of our cultural demography (the “who”) that does not include the children of families in at-risk environments (nurture) putting these children at an extreme disadvantage. The problem isn’t always a student’s capacity for intellect and learning (nature).
Again, if forcing students to take exams they are not prepared to take is wrong, why is forcing students to take classes they are not prepared to take correct?
It may be that I am more sensitive to this topic than many because I have put two children through public schools, each with an IEP but on opposite ends of the academic spectrum.
“Again, if forcing students to take exams they are not prepared to take is wrong, why is forcing students to take classes they are not prepared to take correct?”
In a general sense, it is not educationally sound to place students in coursework for which they lack the preliminary skills in which to do. As well, expecting that all students have the same needs is not very prudent. This is a very sticky wicket since pigeon-holing some students based on aptitude or affinity (as some European nations do) takes away opportunities to choose education paths. Grouping by skill level might bring more students to success, but at what age do you make that determination, and how do you support students who are at a cultural disadvantage before they are forever grouped below their aptitude?
Subject matter also dictates success since homogenous and heterogenous groupings have differing affects on student learning depending on the nature of the subject skill. For instance, mathematics and arithmetic represent more individual learning, whereas social and philosophical subject matter are often collaborative-dependent. A lack of skill-level screening becomes a very big problem as study gets more intense as in high school and post-secondary levels. When I was in HS, we had a business track, a vocational track, and a college preparatory track. While it may have discouraged some students from following a different path, the differing tracks had their own foci allowing for a more seamless course of study.
The biggest problem with this topic is the fact that there are so many learning variables to try to balance that is nearly impossible to account for all of them. This is where a support system and the individual student take responsibility for said student’s needs. Not all students are fortunate enough to have that kind of support–that is where there can be a disconnect.
Should I conclude that you think the practice of having all students take the same courses through tenth grade ( and IB English in 11) is imprudent, at least if the school has students with a variety of abilities?
I re-iterate, it is not educationally sound to place students in coursework for which they lack the preliminary skills. I cannot just arbitrarily comment on every single student’s readiness since I am not in charge of determining such. If you are referring to the practice of assigning required courses to all students, you may want to qualify the varying levels and expectations of each. General studies, advanced studies and advanced placement studies allow for these variances in some aspects, but in my opinion, it still is necessary to determine the best potential course of study for a particular learner. This remains a challenge for the student’s support system since some students blossom late. A student with a strong aptitude for a vocational-technical program may end up writing novels or curing cancer if encouraged by the right person(s) to enroll in well-taught writing or bio-chemistry courses.
I was referring to the practice described in this post:http://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/23/burris-ny-regents-plan-promotes-tracking/
I hadn’t read that thread, but I do agree with you on this point: “Why give the gifted child heading to an ivy a suitable education? I thought every student deserved it. Give students challenging and interesting classes because it is is the students interest.”
I still do not believe it is in any student’s best interest to be placed in coursework for which he is not prepared. That said, all students should be challenged to the extent that the learning is meaningful to them.
I stand corrected, LG. You’re absolutely right.
Choosing the future of one, for the future of all.
Maybe the question that each person must call.
Will this child do crime and that child shine?
Which one will survive over time?
Is your child equal to mine?
Follow the money I say.
It will show you the answer and point the way.
Market share investors and education whores.
They are the key to the education wars.
From the beginning of time brains and sense have mattered.
Without creative input hard work civilizations have shattered.
Greed and narcissism seem to have risen.
Into the fabric of our childrens minds those thoughts are driven.
Work ethic and standards seem things of the past.
Rhetoric one liners filling our heads from media casts.
The news of the day as a 30 second sound bite.
Our attention span drifting like an unstable kite.
Nothing to hold on to or have substance to keep.
Our heads emptied as in a coma like sleep.
The corporate wars raging and attacking our peace.
Robotic wars are coming challenging our beliefs.
Drones and military technology in our faces.
Having no bearing on politics, religion, or races.
Where are we going some would ask?
Look back to the future and take off your mask.
Ask questions and decide if your mind and courage will rise.
Or will you decide to become all you dispise?
If the world and living is not about people and purpose,
And denial becomes living like a never ending circus.
Then we become no more then the junkie and drifter.
Set adrift on an endless boring useless river.
We have capacity to break free do better and deliver.
There is nothing more important then the children of this planet
because they are us tomorrow. Hopefully, they will care for each
other and have the freedom of thought and respect to allow for
the creative success which translates to a more productive world
for all, and enhanced life for others of all abilities.
If we really cared about children, we would take a hard look at the movies and games that are created “for children.” We admit that ads for smoking influence children to smoke http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/healthday/article/648894/ – if an ad can encourage smoking, what do full-length violence-laden movies and games do? We wouldn’t ignore child development and diversity, and pick one-size-fits-all programs or tests for our students. We wouldn’t measure them by the number of hours in school and the scores they produce on standardized tests. We wouldn’t provide them with flawed sex-ed information ( http://www.youreteachingmychildwhat.com ) as STD rates skyrocket. We would not enable certain “risky behaviors” while controlling others. If we really cared about children, we would treat them like children again.
OOPS, this post is a draft, but same sentiment. I can’t seem to delete it.
If we really cared about children, we would take a hard look at the movies and games that our children are exposed to under lax ratings. We admit that ads for smoking influence children to smoke http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/healthday/article/648894/ – if an ad can encourage smoking, what do full-length violence-laden movies and games do? If we really cared about children, we wouldn’t ignore child development and diversity, and pick one-size-fits-all programs or tests for our students. We wouldn’t measure them by the number of hours in school and the scores they produce on standardized tests. We wouldn’t overlook their adolescent brains and provide them with flawed sex-ed information ( http://www.youreteachingmychildwhat.com ) and then provide birth control, abortions or HPV vaccines to combat the skyrocketing STD rates. We would not enable certain “risky behaviors” in loco parentis. If we really cared about children, we would, as a country, embrace and empower the family unit and support policies that strengthen families. It is our job to care for children, and we are leaving them to fend for themselves in so many ways! If we really cared about children, we would act like the adults, and begin to treat them like children again.
Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 159,155 other followers