“Just because you have a good life doesn’t mean you should stay put”
As a ninth-grader, Shanghai’s Li Sixin spent more than three hours on homework a night and took tutorials in math, physics and chemistry on the weekends. When she was tapped to take an exam last year given to half a million students around the world, Li breezed through it (By DIDI TANG, December 4, 2013, 12:02 PM, AP)
The PISA (Program for International Students Assessment) test was relatively easy for this Chinese student and shows, once more, the abyss between what our own students do in the US and those in the top ten world classification of educational achievement. We didn’t even make the top twenty countries, in spite of our national effort called Core Curriculum, now adopted by 46 states.
(Well worth watching)
Your day was wasted if you haven’t learned at least one new interesting fact
“The ubiquitous worksheet model asks kids to memorize and regurgitate facts instead of creatively applying those facts to solve problems.”
“The more I watch young children interact with the world, the more I am convinced that they are natural engineers,” says Christine Cunningham, education researcher and vice-president at the Museum of Science in Boston.
“America’s primary and secondary education systems aren’t producing enough critical thinkers to keep up with the demand.”
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions (Albert Einstein)
Learning styles and preferences vary greatly among students, but there is a common ground: They don’t like to sit for 45 minutes listening to a lecturing teacher. High school students are, nevertheless, subject to this ordeal in most classes. There may be a video supporting the teaching, or words written on a blackboard (yes, we still have those venerable historical tools), but rarely are the teens asked to participate.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Maya Angelou
I love this quote from the famous Renaissance (sic) poet and author Maya Angelou. I love it because I apply it every day with recalcitrant students who voice their discontent toward a teacher or a class. “Can you change it?” “No, so you must change.”
Easier said than done; there is a natural resistance in so many kids toward change and toward objects they dislike. Many are so used to get what they want that they actually demand satisfaction from their teachers. Naturally, the consequences are not pleasant or beneficial for these students.
“If you put a computer in front of children and remove all other adult restrictions, they will self-organize around it,” Mitra says, “like bees around a flower.”
“The bottom line is, if you’re not the one controlling your learning, you’re not going to learn as well.”
Mitra argues that the information revolution has enabled a style of learning that wasn’t possible before.
“Mitra’s work has roots in educational practices dating back to Socrates. Theorists from Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi to Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori have argued that students should learn by playing and following their curiosity”
“No effort means no merit”
They announce themselves frequently as free public school online:
“K12 education options include: (The Ad)
Full-time, tuition-free online public schooling available in many states.
An accredited online private school available worldwide, full- and part-time.
Over 200 courses, including AP and world languages, for direct purchase.”
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think” Socrates
The most important words every teacher should utter frequently are “Good Job.” Sadly, not many do use them judiciously; they unfortunately scatter them among their students without proper criteria. They cannot be used when the child doesn’t deserve them, as they will lose all value for those who really put in a lot of effort. On the other extreme, there are words a good teacher should never pronounce: “You are a loser, What’s your problem?, Can’t you do things right? Why don’t you listen? Lousy job, I have never seen such a mess.” And on and on and on..
“No society can survive without basic family values”
Yet another teacher was killed in the last two weeks, making the profession one of the most dangerous in the US. One was an ex-Marine who took a bullet in the chest; the other was bludgeoned, cut, hacked to pieces, by a deranged 12-year old who was deemed a good guy by his other teachers and by some of his peers. Are they copycats who dream of having their names in the news after watching the horror at Columbine or Virginia Tech, or are they “simply” psychiatric cases who were not diagnosed properly?
Great minds require a fertile soil to prosper
Once again, as they do every so often, education pundits bemoan the lack of civic knowledge by recent college graduates. While Bill Gates laments the lack of potential scientists and mathematicians, liberal arts professors and researchers wonder where all the graduate students have gone (answer: to better paying careers). On the other hand, we, as a country, have had 350 Nobel Prize winners over the years since 1907, more than any other nation on this earth.
Parents should be accountable for students’ lack of interest in learning
Traditionalists, the conservative kind, have always stated that core subjects are paramount in giving a “complete” education to our children. Recent surveys done with recent college graduates show that they know who Lady Gaga is but not the current Speaker of the House by an overwhelming majority. While civics as a social study subject is represented by US History and Government courses in high school at the junior and senior levels, rare is the student who actually shows knowledge and interest in the functioning of our (dysfunctional) government.