#Homeschool by @Staunyas Taunya S. Wright & @mawmedia Michael A. Wright
The Blame Game in Education
College professors lament the preparedness of former high school students. “Those high-school teachers need to do a better job! You students are woefully unprepared for college.” It seems increasingly that high school students are entering college without uncertainty about the college learning culture and diminished tolerance for ambiguity.
High school teachers prepared the students by assigning papers and offering little or no actual teaching on the research process. The teachers explain that, “You need to learn this on your own. I’m preparing you for college.” In college, the student is lost, and still must learn. But now after being scolded in high school, the student is uncertain about how to ask for help. College learning expects more from these young adults including independence. But, college is not about weeding out would-be professionals. Professor, you are more than a babysitter, grader, or passive observer. You too are teachers for good or for ill. Choose the good.
High school teachers get the message and voice their frustrations directed toward elementary school personnel. “What are they doing at that primary school, coloring all day? You kids aren’t even reading at grade level!” High school students should know certain things. Yet, teachers are still responsible to teach. Sometimes, you have to go back to the basics as a review. Students today have a lot more going on. Peer pressure is a common distraction, but their landscape includes much more at their fingertips.
The older kids get, the more responsibility we give them. We take for granted that they can handle it. Maybe some can. But, there are those who need additional support. You can see it in their grades. It is evident in how they interact. Even if they have not learned up to this point, you have an opportunity to change that. Elementary school may not have been the time for the student to blossom academically. High school Teacher, you must nurture creativity, inform independence, and instruct learning skills–how to engage in the learning process. You are the teacher standing in front of them now. Influence them to learn.
Elementary school teachers hear that and complain about parents. “We need to get these parents to reinforce the lessons at home. It can’t be totally on me to educate your child!” The teaching environment leaves much to be desired. Classrooms are at max capacity with students. Most of the time, one teacher bears the load alone with no staff person to help.
Even so, do the best you can. When you pledge to teach, you take the challenge to open up a world of learning to a young mind. With that challenge comes engaging with that child to show that you care. Sometimes it is as simple as taking a few moments to listen to what they are interested in. Elementary school is about connecting interests with the enjoyment of learning. Elementary School Teacher, it is up to you to find out how to reach that child and identify the Math, Science, Social Studies, Literature, and Arts knowledge that supports their dreams. The reward is a child who will trust you, and one who will want to honor you with learning.
Teachers and staff at school often say, “Parents need to be more involved with their child’s education. “Parents respond, “But, you are trained and paid to educate my child. I need to get to my job before I get written up.” This cycle continues each school year. The child has been performing poorly, and its conference time. The teacher has a set of times she is able to meet with parents. The parent don’t show up.
Many excuses could be explained. The most common is, “That time doesn’t work for me.” The core problem is time, but not time spent in conference with the teacher. The time would be better spent in action for the failing child. Parental action concerning education must be a routine in the home. Parent, you must make time to help and check homework, read with their child, review the corrected work that’s brought home, and go over missed problems. Teachers have responsibility to teach. Parents, you reinforce the importance of education. Maybe more importantly, you provide the exposure and sandbox for the student to explore their interests. Make time.
The point of education is not to teach. The point of education is learning. Teaching is the mechanism. Sustainable education is student-centered and also student-driven. That makes the job of educating at every level a challenge to apply knowledge, trigger, and external motivation to ignite curiosity and inspire intrinsic motivation toward life-long learning behavior. A reclaiming of the child has to happen at all levels. The phrase, “No child left behind,” sounds catchy when said, but if not done intentionally by all involved with the child it will simply be just words thrown in the air. Policies requiring seemingly endless testing seeks to quantify the learning that is the point of education.
AND, I have found in my volunteering days that teaching makes the learning possible. Students respond to genuine interaction and concern. This teaching opens them up to learning. Modeling, informing, connecting, trust, and making time educate a learning posture that will serve the student well at all levels. Often, you can look at a child that is doing poorly and see it’s not just because of their resistance to learning. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a key consideration for these situations. Once you meet the student’s needs, you can then reclaim a curious, energetic learner who is ready for whatever you have ready to teach.
How to Inspire Every Student
- Know each child. Require that they bring an articulation of their interests for you to engage with as raw materials.
- Connect their interests to the content diversifying your lesson plans in broad areas such as sports, medicine, engineering/building, fine art, and music. Assign them the task of articulating their interest from that starting point.
- Reinforce their learning posture. Support their cognitive flexibility, curiosity, and wonder. Show them how to do the basics, then explore alternatives, and become consumers of information.
- Expose them to the real world. School can be really rote. The real world has complexity that can shake students out of complacency.
- Love them. Some are uncomfortable not knowing how to execute this necessary component. But, every child must be OUR child. They may not live in our home, but they may befriend our niece. They may be our child’s classmate one day. They could be our daughter’s first crush. They have dignity and worth. Show them this truth.