How To Fix Education – Teachers Are Not Miracle Workers
Today, I present a reader submission into the latest writing contest here at 20smoney that aims to offer ideas on how to fix some of our biggest problems. The contest asks readers to submit their input on the following major challenges facing the United States (and other countries):
1. High unemployment – How would you go about lowering unemployment? The current policies seem to issue debt or print money in order to prop up the economy and boost employment, but these have potential disastrous side effects. Your solutions need to have minimal side effects, and should be mentioned in your solution.
2. Corrupt politics – Approval ratings for politicians on both parties are at record lows. How would you suggest we get back to a sane situation where politicians are accountable to the people and get back to the Constitution?
3. Too Much Debt – We as a society have way too much debt, both at the individual level and the public level. What would you implement in order to get American’s and America’s balance sheets back to a healthy state?
4. Education – Education in our country is getting worse and is getting more expensive. What is the solution here?
You can submit your entry by picking one (or more) of the above topics and sending it to kevin (at) 20smoney (dot) com or through the contact form. Bloggers get a free backlink, and all entrants are eligible for the $250 prize!
Today’s author selected education as the topic…
All Call to Parents….Teachers are not miracle workers!
I consider myself a good teacher. I explicitly teach writing. I make sure the students find evidence (or details) in their daily reading to support main ideas. I “think out loud” so they can think about thinking (a strange strategy we now teach, I don’t remember being taught this myself). I encourage and involve students to work together in a group, allowing them to work collectively to find the answer to a mathematics question.
But guess what I’m finding? Children today have no idea of how to find the answer on their own. They don’t understand multiple meaning words, like ‘bill’ and ‘stir’. They can barely write a sentence without my help. For as much as I do in class to help those students who need additional support, I only have these students for a total of five hours a day. So what it inhibiting them from taking responsibility for their own learning, such as reading directions? In my opinion, too much television and not enough meaningful conversations with their parents!
I’ve been teaching for nine years. Within that time frame, I’ve seen a decline in the amount of time students spend with their parents. Many students are dropped off at 7 am at the YMCA only to be picked up from the afterschool program at 5:30pm. By the time they get home, it’s dinner, shower, and maybe an hour of television. Never mind checking their homework or actually engaging them in any kind of thought-provoking conversation.
With this limited amount of time spent with their parents, they aren’t engrossed in conversation to help them build their vocabulary. They don’t understand that a bill is something that you pay or it can be a part of a bird. Because so little time is spent showing them how to do something, they can’t comprehend the word stir, as in stir the pancake mix or the leaves are stirring in the breeze. (Mind you, these are explicit examples of things my students don’t understand!)
Much of their “free time” is spent in front of an Xbox or Play Station, limiting the amount of time they have to converse with real humans. On the playground students have difficulties solving problems on their own due to their lack of social skills and negotiating strategies. In my neighborhood, so few children play with other children during their “off” time that these basic skills are being lost.
I understand that in today’s economy, both parents usually work full time. I’m not asking parents to quit their jobs. However, I am pleading with parents to spend any free time you have talking to your kids. Involve them in your daily tasks such as cooking (I know it’s messy, but they need this conversation time and experience!), paying bills, grocery shopping, and quickly checking their homework.
In the car, instead of letting them veg out in front of the DVD screen or DS, ask them specific questions about school to start up a conversation like:
- What was your favorite part of the day? Why is that your favorite part? (Many kids will say recess! Find out what is their favorite time in class.)
- What is the story they are reading this week? Does it fall into a theme? How does that story relate to the theme? Or, what is the main idea of the story? Who is their favorite literary character?
You might find that your kids struggle to answer you. It could be that they can’t remember, or that they aren’t paying attention. However, the more you ask, the more it will make them realize they need to focus, remember, and try to answer with more than just a ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘I guess’. Don’t give up!
I want to be clear, I’m not blaming parents for my students’ inabilities to answer simple questions or solve subtraction problems. However, I do see an overall trend that is frightening to say the least. Educational standards today are higher than they were 20 years ago. These students need all the help they can get. Please give it to them!
Little House writes about her journey to becoming a future home owner on http://www.littlehouseinthevalley.com. Along the way she is finding ways to save money and is becoming financially savvy.