This is a fascinating article. It is sobering, and as a parent, makes me incredibly sad. The comments are, as all comments are, mixed. Some make me furious, some are insightful.
To those commenters who blame the students for not learning, I ask you to talk to students. Those students in your class who “don’t care” may actually have serious issues at home, have a learning disability or mental health issues, or a myriad of other issues that interfere with learning. Or, maybe, one too many teachers rolled their eyes at them, and the kids no longer feel valued. I hope my kids never have you for a teacher.
I happen to be a parent of one of these kids. She is intelligent, creative, thoughtful and caring. She started school as an enthusiastic student. She will hopefully graduate this year, but she is a different person after being part of the factory school system that rewarded rote memorization over creative analysis. She has ADHD and works 10 times as hard as other students to maintain interest in topics that are not naturally interesting to her. Do not blame her for not being interested in every subject in school. I bet you weren’t either, and that’s why we – as adults – choose to be attorneys or scientists. We don’t study everything.
To those who support lectures, I hope you realize that the world has changed. While some lecture is still valuable, our entire world has shifted to a far more visual place. We access information differently. We process information differently. And that’s ok. It doesn’t all have to be the same as it was 20, 30, 60 years ago in order to be valuable. How dare you say you can teach if you are unwilling to learn new things?
After watching our daughter hammered down by a school system that does not reward her learning style, we purposefully chose a different school for my son. His class periods are long, but he says he never, ever sits for the whole time. He never goes a class period without interacting (verbally or physically) with the teacher and other students. His school builds in daily opportunities for students to move around the building and engage in learning other than classroom. He is given ample time to complete homework in school, and rarely has more than an hour of work at night. This means he can continue with his outside interests, which includes singing, composing/arranging music, piano, and reptiles. His learning at home is as valuable as his learning at school, and school supports this.
The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys.
I have made a terrible mistake.
I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!
This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching…
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