Thursday, February 14, 2008

So You Want Your Child to Succeed in School ???

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The most important thing you can teach them, regardless of what "school" they are in, is the need for them to take responsibility for learning, and for them to be persistent. No teacher can pour knowledge into the top of students' heads via funnels and then put on a locking cap. The schoolhouse is not a bottling plant. The very best teachers can facilitate learning and make it happen happily, for some of the students. It is very seldom you will find a teacher who can teach everybody across the board in a classroom setting, unless the students understand and embrace the two cornerstones of education above.

If the parents do not instill those values, and instead take the attitude that, "it is the teacher's job to teach their kids, whether the kids are primed to learn or NOT," then we will need Continuation Schools, Delinquent Schools, Remedial Schools, Summer Makeup Schools, Alternative Schools (some, not all), so-called "Academies" of this that or the other thing (I watched SFUSD add the word "Academy" to a half dozen schools, to no effect on test scores even years later).

If a child, with encouragement from his parents, has made up his mid that he or she is "dumb," or simply that he or she is going to resist learning for spite, for whatever psychological reasons, usually completely beyond the control and often even the background knowledge of the teacher, then learning will not take place.

And, BTW, the military is doing its darndest to avoid taking on kids who fail in school. The military has learned that if a kids has failed there, the kid is also likely to fail in the military. It takes a willingness to learn to succeed in today's military.

For me, I see the biggest problem confronting society is in educating the previous batch of kids who are now having kids of their own, that they are not stupid and can learn. This is good for them, it is good for their kids, it is good for the country. Do any of our present Presidential candidates see this issue? I don't see it being talked about anywhere, other than in the very general "yes we can!" slogan of Obama.

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