It seems that while schools struggle to maintain a positive image, so many people find it far too easy criticize the schools for their failings. Some of the criticism is constructive and helpful and propels the school systems forward toward a positive change but for the most part, the criticism is a pool of negativity which serves no practical purpose.
I believe in challenging our schools to do better and looking for ways to improve the quality of our schools but I disagree with the way that most people are going about this. If a student begins failing a class, a teacher wouldn't berate the student for not understanding the material and doing poorly on exams. Rather, the teacher would try to identify and fix the problem. While we expect that the teachers and schools will support and encourage our children, we feel it is okay to criticize the schools without offering positive solutions and supporting progress towards those solutions.
Schools are like students. They need support, encouragement and positive solutions to grow and achieve excellence. So how do we support and lift up our schools in positive ways?
Yes, maam! I believe that the excellence will have to start at home. As parents I feel that we need to lend support to the teachers by a little "home schooling." We have a tendency to rely on the school system to teach our youth everything they need to know. And then when they struggle (the students) we are quick to point fingers at these strangers (the teachers).
I like this forum topic.
This is an extremely complex issue and one about which I have written many hubs. I am a retired teacher, so know a lot about this subject.
Here are a few things that can be done:
Get rid of laws that damage rather than help students, such as the IDEA
Go back to neighborhood schools
Reduce class sizes
Require positive and ongoing parental involvement
Eliminate fund raisers and other activities that interrupt classes
Require teachers to teach totally within their fields
Go back to the concept of homogeneous grouping
These things will probably never happen, but they are things that could really improve our educational system.
Seriously, I'm not sure that's possible in the traditional sense. Things have changed drastically in the past 10-20 years, but schools cling to old failed methodology and thinking. Today's classroom is boring, lacking in dynamic and extensive student involvement. Today's graduate will have between 3-5 career changes, so the lesson should not be in stagnant knowledge but the dynamic of self-learning, self-awareness, accountability, responsibility, work ethic, and critical, creative, intuitive thinking. We need good thinkers not good test takers. With the govt. in charge k-college, there is a lot that gets screwed up. I truly believe the greatest solutions will come outside schools and colleges and found in the private sector or innovation coming from entrepreneurs--what this country was founded on and is its greatest assets. Innovation and solution unabated.
Plus there's the multiple types of intelligence to consider. We have to stop creating cookie cutter schools and teaching students according to their learning styles and strengths.
I mean we have to start teaching students according to their learning styles and strengths.
Yes, school covers only 20% of possible intelligence types: logic and linguistics. School is not student centered, even though that phrase may be thrown around a lot. And that's at the foundation of education's downfall. Times have changed, but schools remain the same.
From a retired high school teacher:
-allow teachers more creativity
-STOP forcing teachers to teach to mandated tests
-make sure teachers know their subject matter before being able to teach
-less red tape
-more parent involvement
-more options for students
-more options for parents
-more hands-on experiences for students
-STOP using a cookie-cutter approach (students are individuals!)
-use multi-discipline methods, when possible
-make learning fun and exciting
-teach critical thinking more often
Straight A students don't become straight A students by coming home every day and lounge in front of the TV or play Warcraft. There's some discipline and effort involved and we all know that there are some teachers that are great at explaining the subject matter and some are not. Now, for instance, if the student doesn't quite understand integers in math class, and doesn't understand the teacher's explanation, all he or she has to do is type in "integers algebra" in Youtube or any other math website and they'll be numerous instructional videos on the subject.
Give parents a grade. If they fall below a certain level and stay below it for three consecutive semesters, take the kids away. This should be done before the end of 3rd grade. There really isn't time to waste.
It's a very good question, how change the image of our schools ? I think that first, all the government must study the real actual facts and try a find a good way to implement new methods and technics to communicate with children and integrate the channels that they use to share all about they are concerned.
If you read my remarks, govt. is at the root of the problem. Things have changed drastically in the last 10-20 economically. Good book to read is The Age of Turbulence by Allen Greenspan. Not a big fan of his, but he makes some important points about the economy and where we are heading. Because of the sped-up nature of the creative destruction of capitalism (or state, crony capitalism), the average worker just entering the workforce will have 3-5 career changes. So the emphasis need not be on knowledge, for that will certainly change, come and go. Someone here posted that he took a biology degree, went into the service, and some 10 yrs later was told his BS was equal to a few classes in biology. Things change and will continue to do so. So we must train our students to be not good test takers, mere transient knowledge absorbers, but good thinkers. We need them to be fully self-aware, accountable, adaptable, self-educating, and to be good problem solvers, thus good critical, creative, intuitive thinkers. Most in the 'system' won't tell you what's wrong, that they really know, and even have potentially good solutions. We really don't need to blow up the current ed. system, just side step it, empower our youth with what's really going on in the workforce and ed. system itself. And to stop the govt.'s one-size-fits-all, merely-feed-the-economies philosophy. Empower the individual is where it's at.
Thank you everyone for all of those wonderful responses. While there were some differing opinions, I also heard some themes that could be helpful.
Fix broken laws
Reduce classroom sizes
Keep teachers in specialty areas
Eliminate one size fits all strategies
Include instruction in all learning styles
Bring parents into the mix more
Emphasize more parental involvement when possible
Focus on building the overall person
It seems to me that we all agree that neither the schools, nor the students are entirely at fault here. Rather an overall approach from government and school districts down to parents and students all need to step up more to ensure student success here.
Does anyone have any idea how we as a community can help bring these ideas to fruition?
remove government - this will eliminate most of the chaos
We could just do what the Finns do and just stop caring and suddenly, almost mysteriously, improve because, oh I don't know, the schools no longer suck out students' souls. They beat South Korea, the top tier, and it was entirely unintentional.
Through LOCAL CONTROL.
Centralized control is what has ruined the system. The larger the school the worse it is.
You can't hide bad behavior in a small school.
Centralized control leads to bloated administrative salaries, bean-counting, and
Local control leads to accountability at all levels: students, faculty, school board, and parents.
Each school should run on it's own.
There's a very good documentary called, "Waiting for Superman" that shows the problems of the school system and the schools that have sprung up as a result. Primarily, on the government side, "tracking" is one of the biggest issues while on the teachers side, it is the unions and their stranglehold on keeping bad teachers employed.
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