For this weeks C4T I was assigned to read, Mr. David Warlick's blog, 2¢ Worth. Mr. Warlick, teaches in, North Carolina and is a, self proclaimed vagabond-educator.
After reading Mr. Warlick's post, ARE WE WASTING OUR CHILDREN? I was a bit confused as to what his message was about. So, after taking another look at it, I was able to figure out what was going on in his post.
The following is a summary of his post:
Mr. Warlick starts out by giving an account of a nightmare he had the previous night. It wasn't a typical nightmare involving spooky houses, but instead, started out as a news expose where 4 students were pictured on the television screen while a news reporter stated, that the boys were killed during school hours in an apparent gang related shooting. The reporter went on to say that the boys were not gang members but instead, were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The reporter then asked, Who is to blame for the deaths of the boys? The schools?
The reporter then goes on to describe how the boys had fallen through the cracks of a school whose performance was judged based on actual student enrollment, eluding to the fact, that some students were more valuable to the school if they were not on the school's roster.
Although this account was a nightmare, Mr. Warlick goes on to write that he has never found an educator of any kind that would encourage students to drop out, but he did know of some students who, out of frustration, dropped out of school due to the methodized nature of their classrooms. When the students dropped out of school, they were not encouraged to stay, rather, they were allowed to leave with nothing being said.
Mr. Warlick, also writes about a discussion with another educator, who had been taking classes about about how to analyze student data. Basically, he was learning how to identify students, who, with a little help could help improve the school's performance scores. As well as, identifying those students who would be a waste of time and valuable school resources. In the words of Mr. Warlick, " he was learning how to game the system."
Mr. Warlick asks these questions at the end of his post:
"Are we gaming the system at the expense of children? Is this really happening? Is this what public education in this country has become?"
"Are we wasting our children?"
The account of Mr. Warlick's nightmare is, unfortunately, happening in many schools across our nation. So many times students are negatively labeled by classroom teachers for many reasons such as: associativity among peers, bad home life, ADHD, slow learner, and looking for attention. Sometimes these negative labels are applied simply because of society's stereotypical views of people.
I think it is sad that we live in a world where learning has become so structured that we inhibit the overall growth of students, all in the name of test scores. Not all students learn in the same manner and not allowing students different options in education is contributing to the ever growing drop-out rate.
Essentialism and Perennialism are traditional education theories, in which, both are teacher centered and are the basis for our current educational system. The expected outcome of learning is that all students converge together at the same point in terms of knowledge, skills,values,and attitudes. This type of teaching may be good for some students but for others it is a recipe for disaster.
From my perspective, Progressivism, an educational theory geared toward the growth of the student, would be a much better alternative for our nations schools. Although it is structured, teachers are not the only source for information and students actively learn through various concepts and strategies, and not, as what Mr. Warlick writes a standards-based education regime.
As for the "catalyst" for his dream, I think it shocking that the educational system allows for teachers to learn how to "weed out bad students" in order to improve a schools test scores. Who are we to make those types of decisions? Maybe those students who are deemed as "not worth our time or effort" could be helped in a different learning environment. Test scores should not be the only way to measure a child's academic success. For instance; Lets say I had a student, who, after taking a test was found to be academically behind for his grade level. The student worked very hard all year long on his studies then at the end of the year took the same test again and while he did not pass with flying colors, he did if fact improve his test scores. This to me is an educational success! Not giving up on students is the only way that they will gain a sense of confidence in themselves. Students need to feel confident in their learning ability and should never be thought of as a waste of time.
The public Education System needs an overhaul! We should not "play games" with students education as all kids are worthy of our time and commitment. Educational success should not solely depend on test scores!
In his post, "BUT WHO CHAMPIONS CITIZENSHIP?", Mr. Warlick writes about how a media relations firm contacted him in regards to blogging about a particular topic that began with,"CEOs tell governors to strength(en) math, science education standards.” The organization,Change The Equation, is an organization pushing towards improved educational standards in STEM (Science, Technology,Engineering and Mathematics). Mr. Warlick was impressed with the organization's impressive list of corporate sponsors and commended the vision and guidance of Change the Equation. However, he is more concerned with who is championing citizenship and who is pushing for students to be better civic-minded citizens.
Mr. Warlick makes a good point. There is so much emphasis placed on academic achievements in math and science and not so much for the nurturing of good moral character or the development of social skills. In the school where my children attend, good citizenship is encouraged but, not demanded. Most teachers expect students to do their academic best and push for high test scores as well as, enforce good study habits, but education should not be based solely on these kinds of standards. What I think needs to be done is to make good citizenship an essential part of the curriculum. How can we expect our students to be well rounded individuals if we do not change our views about what education is all about? So, the next question would be is; what traits or qualities should we include in the quest of educating students about citizenship?
While searching the web for an answer to this question there seemed to be 5 components that were common in most of the articles that I read. The 5 common components were; honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility and courage. Each of these proposed qualities are synonymous with what each person in society should strive to incorporate into their daily lives.
By looking at education in a different light and placing high expectations upon students to be good citizens and also to act and behave in such a way that would be conducive to creating a better society, we could change the world by turning out well rounded individuals.