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Monday, March 21, 2011

Are we satisfied with status quo?

Every Saturday night at midnight my Tivo is set up to record PBS’s “Need to Know” because the show keeps me abreast of what Americans are coping with and the methods they are using to deal with their problems. This past week’s show was about an academic transformation in Brockton Massachusetts.  The show featured an urban minority school district in Brockton that was known for its sports teams but ranked among the lowest in academic achievement.

In the United States we don't seem to  want to face our problems as Finland did.  Finland recognized that in order to achieve  academic progress, you have to concentrate on the underachievers.  Brockton realized that giving the students of this poor urban school the required standard tests would always be met with failure.  The Brocton school had to start with the basics of speaking , pronunciation, reading, writing and listening skills and every teacher in every class had to include English as part of the curriculum, including the gym and music teachers.  The project worked and Brockton is still an athletic powerhouse but they have  also won several academic awards. In fact,a transfer student from Africa, who couldn't speak any English, recently graduated with honors and won a scholarship to Harvard.

A study said most of our universities are taught with a series of lectures but this one university decided to reverse the trend. The university believed that students worked better in groups, than  as individuals.  At the start of the semester the instructor  handed out a project to the group and let them work as groups to research, discuss, and come up with a group answer.  The individuals learned real quickly how important they were to the team, they weren’t many absences.  I wonder if this would help with our excessive dropout rate?

I believe we can let children opt out of PE  and physical education has not been a big part of the curriculum since John Kennedy convinced us that we needed to be strong to keep up with the Soviets.  There are some new  studies that state that those  who vigorously exercise before taking a major test, usually do better. This one school made sure that the kids exercised hard enough to get their heart rate to a certain level,so it would release some hormones that increase their learning ability.

In July of 2009 the president challenged us with these words “I am issuing a challenge to our nation’s governors and school boards, principals and teachers, businesses and non-profits, parents and students: if you set and enforce rigorous and challenging standards and assessments; if you put outstanding teachers at the front of the classroom; if you turn around failing schools – your state can win a Race to the Top grant that will not only help students outcompete workers around the world, but let them fulfill their God-given potential.” but several states did not want to compete because of political reasons… ..  The status quo is alive and well in America.


Mike said...

Talk about status quo,I slipped over @ ViCad,so I deleted my comments but I should know better. ....Wayward wind likes to push buttons and I should learn he is going to use every opportunity to show his hate and prejudice...Time to get back on track.


Rebecca said...

Exercise is so good for the brain! It's good for us physically and emotionally. We think that the way to good test scores is more sitting and listening when really we need more P.E., music, and art - more DOING.

Really, we need to get over our obsession with constantly comparing and testing our children! There is more to life than getting good at taking tests. Like, being healthy, emotionally... society needs healthy citizens more than it needs good testers.

I don't support "no pass no play," because I've known people who, through no fault of their own, were as academic as an ant, but who were gifted athletically. You know, I also remember some very talented artists who could draw realistically, but for whom academics didn't sink in. If the only thing I can do is basketball or drawing, those might be the only things keeping me in school! Why not have a more rounded curriculum? Or why not allow alternative routes where the three Rs are stressed but where art is the focus and value?

I like the idea of cooperative learning.

Rebecca said...

Zero tolerance is also a destructive notion. Children desperately need adults and society to model common sense and reasoning skills. Zero tolerance is anything but...

Treating oregano possession the same as marijuana possession is - S.T.U.P.I.D. We reap what we sew. You sew lack of common sense and severity you reap it.

Oh, sorry, I vented and got preachy. That wasn't directed at you, of course. It just feels good to vent on the internet sometimes. =D

Rebecca said...

Let the artists learn history through art history. =D

Mike said...


Thanks for your responses but are you sure that you are a conservative and I am a liberal? I agree with just about everything you posted and I think I will use this blog as a way around my Lenten pledge..:-)

Rebecca said...

When it comes to education, I am a radical progressive or an anarchist. =D

Edith Ann said...

I just hope the teachers of Texas remember how Rick Perry recognized their efforts the next time that creep runs for any office. Turned down millions of dollars and the ability to dictate the design of the curriculum!

What a MORON!!!