Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting on My Soapbox

I try to stay off my soapbox, but this issue is near and dear to my heart. Having grown-up with an educator in the family and later becoming one.

I am tired of teachers being blamed for the failings of the "education system." I'm tired of hearing that we don't do our jobs. We are failing our students. There need to be stricter standards for teachers. Why?

The system broke back in the 1970's when some fool decided that children had to be socially promoted and remain with their age peers so they would not get their feelings hurt. That archaic system is still in place today.

I'm going to date myself, but I need to make a point. When I was an elementary student back in the early 1960's there were things we had to be able to do to go on to the next grade. They were required. Children did NOT fail kindergarten, nor were they held back in kindergarten. Our wise teachers knew that children learned at a different pace. Kindergarten was where we learned to share, work in groups, and basically what the boundaries were. The prime grades for repeating were first and second where the basic were taught. You really had to have the basics. I don't remember too many that didn't get those on the first try.

Fast forward twenty some years to when my daughter was in elementary school. The kids were tested and placed into reading groups. They changed classrooms for reading. They were tested throughout the year and moved up as they progressed. It wasn't rocket science. The kids who needed more help got it.

Now you cannot put a child in reading group. Heaven forbid, the damage to their egos would be forever ingrained. Many would be doomed to failure. NOT. Real life is full of failures. You pick yourself up and start over. Whole group instruction is the thing now. Doesn't matter if you have children reading two grades above grade level, on grade level, or two grades below grade level everyone reads the same story at the same time. Oh wait, they don't read it. They listen to it on a tape/CD the teacher plays for them. REALLY???? Then they break into mini groups with tasks to complete and move every twenty minutes or so. One of two of the groups has a teacher or paraprofessional that monitors what the children are doing. The other two or three groups the children are left to themselves. The teacher then chooses the group work she will take a grade from. Heaven help the child who was in a non-monitored group if they didn't understand what was expected.

Part of the fix for education is to come up with a simple list of requirements that must be mastered (mastered meaning your child can get it 85% of the time without assistance) post them where parents, teachers and the community can see them and then teach them. We as educators spend so much time trying to prepare kids for "The Test" whatever one is required by the state or district that we have lost sight of what teaching really is. We have let the politicians (who themselves are clueless) dictate what goes on in the classroom. It's time to relook at education and what really did work. It's not rocket science. It's more common sense.

If you have a child two months into the school year that doesn't seem to be getting whatever you are teaching, you need to get the parents in and get some kind of help for that child. If the government is going to hold teachers accountable for the education of the child, then maybe parents need to know what it is that the child is expected to learn. Curriculum guides don't tell a parent anything. They are written in educational jargon to appease administrators and government bodies. Get back to the basics.

Okay, now I'm getting off my soapbox. I'm open to all comments. I can take it.



  1. I agree with you.. :) In my eyes teachers deserve the world! I wouldnt have gotten through school without that extra help!

  2. Lots of good stuff here, girlfriend. Mastering the basics, learning social skills, working with families are all important things. I think we'll really have something going on when we move away from putting kids in groups based on age and have a system that lets kids be where they need to be for whatever it is they are learning. Got multiplication down, go on down to the division room or the algebra room. Having a hard time understanding what you read? Head on over to the comprehension room. Need to learn to get along with others? Head on over to the "Om" room. No judgments, no bullying. Just meeting needs.

  3. I also think teachers should teach to their strengths, so moving kids from teacher to teacher is not a bad thing. I'm and English major, no way should I be teaching your child math. Oh, I can help if they get stuck, but I sure shouldn't be the lead teacher.


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