It is important to recognize that every child has a different learning style and pace, but every child has the ability to learn in their own way. If we would go back to a time where this was the genuine practice in our schools, you would have more well adjusted and enthusiastic students, willing to participate in the learning process and not tuning it out.
Keeping with the first point, the education system needs to adjust the classes to fit each student’s learning style and pace: remedial, average, advanced. This does not mean these students will be exposed to different curriculum, but rather exposed to different teachers teaching the same curriculum at the correct pace and effective method to reach every child. As it stands now, school systems often track students according to their pace and style, encouraging the average and more advanced students to excel, while all other students are left dangling off to the side. Remember every child can be reached; it is a matter of finding a method that works with the child to bring out their true potential.
Content curriculum needs to be consistent, meaning, that you can take one 7th grader from one school and place them in a new school and expect the same content to be covered. It will lend more to a fair and balanced educational system. Schools say they are keeping up with the standards presented to them by the state and federal level, but too often there content is diluted or missing or presented in such a way it is unrecognizable.
School administrations must return to a time that allowed their teachers to actually teach. Stop adopting fuzzy manufactured programs from businesses that claim they can guarantee children to learn, yet fail to take into account every child’s learning style and pace-remember point one. All too often, these programs cannot accomplish the task of educating our youth, but they can be less expensive to invest in then actual textbooks and teaching supplies, plus, the cost is often offset by how many children are on the “free-lunch” program in the school. So, if you have a school in a poor area of the country, you are likely to see these ineffective programs utilized, yet the proof of effectiveness is still in testing phase, or has yielded a result of being only marginally effective. This places these students, who already come from poverty backgrounds, on a fast track to continuing that background.
Teachers, especially at the junior high and high school level, must go back to a time where they gave notes on chapters to students in their class. A typical class started on Monday with the teacher giving chapter notes and going over the notes as the class read through the chapter, and then for homework the class did the end of chapter questions. Tuesday, the teacher collected the homework and actually looked at it and commented on it, which steered the student in a correct direction if they were not already there. The rest of the week was spent on discussing the chapter more, and the teacher was completely available to assist students with questions and helping them to understand. There may have been a quiz during that time, and Friday always ended with a test. Again, this gave way to consistent learning and expectations, and the student always had some tool of guidance to refer to such as teacher given notes, questions they answered, homework, quizzes and tests, textbooks, and projects.
Language arts teachers, especially high school level (9th grade), need to continue to give spelling and vocabulary words weekly. This will broaden writing abilities and also help to prep them for the SAT, or just plain help them speak and communicate more effectively no matter the path they choose in life. Keep them writing with weekly writing assignments. Let them write and let you critique them and point them in the proper direction. To often schools adopt these “learning to write” techniques that really are not reaching the students as effectively as the good old days of just writing and allowing the teacher to point you in the correct direction. This is evident when students do reach college and must take remedial English classes before they are allowed to even take the actual required English classes. Professors are finding students void of simple level grammar skills and writing skills, which tell you that these “learning to write” techniques are not working.
We need to remember that young children are sponges that will indeed absorb knowledge; however, that does not mean we can force feed them knowledge that is so far advanced for their actual developmental stages. Sure, some kids may be brighter and able to absorb everything that is shoveled at them in the early grades of school, but there are more that will flounder around and not retain what they really cannot handle for their developmental range, making it a waste of teaching time. For example, there is no reason why a 3rd grader must have to tackle pre-algebra, when years ago pre-algebra was deemed as something only appropriate to teach in grades 6 or 7. Why the rush? Maybe it is this new rush to force feed knowledge that is producing unenthused students or a higher percentage of students that are void any retention of knowledge they were crammed with early on. Slow down, allow the children to absorb the work without the overload.
No one can dispute that the children of today are the future, but if the educational system of today does not stop and take a second to see that what they are doing is not working, there will be more children that become adults who never had the true chance to reach their personal levels of potential. Knowledge is a flame that should remain burning bright and attainable, not snuffed out because the system cannot get it right.