PhotoCC- By Guian Bolisay
How many of us agree with how the public school system is educating students these days? Are you for or against standardized testing? Parents, are you accepting of the fact that your child is most likely bored or disengaged at school? And finally, what is with the stigma that good grades determine learning?
Will Richardson’s article, 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us, addresses the “elephants” in the classroom that may actually not be so noticeable to the general individual. When looking at the 9 elephants stated in the article, it makes me, a future educator, a little unnerved that we, as a society, are tolerant of what is considered learning and understanding in the public school system.
“We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.”
This is not something that I want my students to face. Here’s the hard facts: if student’s are not engaged, they are not learning. If students are bored, they start to hate school and therefore, do not care about learning. Eventually, if students stay bored and disengaged, they tend to drop out of high school. Some, take their education into their own hands and continue on with their lives, others find something else to do.
Students need to be allowed to be creative and have some reign when it comes to their education. Technology is great, but it doesn’t mean student’s are engaged; stop using it as a crutch. Lessons need to be mindful and inspiring, we want students to want to learn. As teachers, we should want to spark that curiosity, so students will guide their learning.
“We know that deep, lasting learning requires conditions that schools and classrooms simply were not built for.”
Looking back on your own life, did the lessons that stick with you come in the form of reading a textbook, or carrying out the action? Hard, life lessons learned, come in the form of carrying out and action and usually suffering a consequence. They aren’t enjoyable, sometimes you regret the decisions made, but you truly learned from them. I think it is safe to say that our students need to be engaged, completing hands on projects that they will learn from. Instead of teaching students about content matter through reading about it, have the actually perform the action. There is a lot of learning that can be carried out through actions that will stick with the students for years. But, being told what to read and then write an essay about it is boring. There seems to be no real purpose behind the assignment. Students are good at improvising; they can complete the task to meet the requirements without ever truly learning the content. The school system needs to let students guide their learning, to allow them to see the purpose behind it, and to relate it to real-life situations. They can meet the required standards through different content and materials, however, it does put more work on the teacher.
“We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.”
The public school system is one that “teaches to the test” and therefore, are more concerned about scores than they are about true learning and understanding. There is a huge difference in knowing the content to pass a test and understanding the mechanics of it to where you will not forget it. Yes, an “A” shows success, while an “F” shows failure, but how do we determine where the student is truly at? What if a student doesn’t test well, but can converse the topic and explain everything they know, reiterating what they have been taught? What if a student can build a model, but has difficulty solving the equation that would “build” the model on paper? We give students “A’s”, “4’s”, or “proficient” and vice versa, however, how can we truly tell if they are exceeding or failing expectations? It is disappointing to think that as parents and teachers, we are more concerned with what the grade shows, than if the student actually knows the content.
Overall, I believe that it is more important that a student truly learns the content, and has a firm understanding than what the appear to be learning through a test. I would rather a student complete a project that is engaging and can show they understand the content than have them test over it. In general, our students are not allowed to be creative or guide their own learning and I feel that we are losing the enjoyment of learning. I hate that teachers have to “teach to the test” and are more concerned with meeting the standards than they are teaching conceptually and teaching for understanding.