Is School What Holds American Students Back?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Is School What Holds American Students Back?

I recently read an article by Peter Gary that called School is a Prison. In this article he takes the position that today’s school system as it is, is damaging to our students. He quotes research that followed middle school students and tracked what they were doing and their emotional state during that time. That research stated that kids were less happy when playing with friends as opposed to while in school. Thank you for illustrating nothing!  Monitor how anyone feels and chances are the vast majorityof people will feel the same way working and out relaxing with friends. I am fortunate enough to be someone who loves my work, and I can honestly say I generally enjoy being there, but even I would say that relaxing with friends would rate slighlty higher on the enjoyment scale. Dies that mean that I should not work?  Obviously not. So for starters, his argument is based on pointless research. On top of that, you could most likely put a middle school student on the sideline of an NFL game or backstage at a concert and they would rate the experience low on the excitement scale!

He argues that society shrugs it off as preparation for life in which they will often be limited in what they are able to do in their post education life. The truth is, unlike whatever world the Author lives in, most of us have to learn to work within a system in our workplace. Their are schedules, constraints on our time, expectations, and demands; as well there should be. To remove this from a child’s education is to further advance the culture of entitlement that has developed as my generation grows into parenting age.

The article then goes on to discuss the value of using Student Directed Learning. The author praises homeschooling and then the Sudbury Valley school.  In both approaches children are free of the “shackles” of traditional school. The students are “free to do anything they want as long as they don’t break the rules.”  The rules are created by tge students. The goal is to foster and indulge the educational curiosity of students.
I find this article to be both simple minded in its attenpted solution and offensive to all good educatiors.  I have done a bit of reading on Self Directed curriculum because I wanted to improve my ability to reach my Kindergarten students. I realized that I can incorporate many of tge principles of Self Directed learning and foster and inspre student curiosity. If you read my blog “What Can You Really Teach on the First Day” you will know the value I place on developing curiosity and a love of learning fir children. Giod teachers incorporate student interests, develop interesting learning opportunities and provide chances for students to explore their learning environments. They create situations in which students can develop a love of learning that lasts beyond school. Sure, many kids will still say that they are happier playing than in school. Students are generally very happy in my class, but they still love playtime.
My point is sinple, in my class students learn to love learning and indulge their curiosity, and explore things that interest them academically, but they also learn to manage their time, be responsible for their work and their actions, and how to put forward good effort when the activity is not their favorite. All of these are valuable skills.
While students may report being burned out by schooling, tge major issue is not being jn the classrooom, but the stress we place on grades and testing. As teachers, parents, society, and now even politicians, the extreme emphasis on test scores and perfect grades that burns out students.
Comparing schools to a prison is a harsh misguided concept. The key to inspiring students is balance. Teaching students that they can enjoy some things while meeting obligations is a crucial lesson. Teachers and students alike need to remember Theodore Suess Giesel’s advice to graduating college students, “So be sure when you step. Step with great care and great tact. And remeber that life’s a Great balancing act.”
Students and people in general can take a great deal from this. No one method ever fixes everything. Through taking the best practices of many concepts, we can come closer to achieving all the goals at once.
Thanks for reading!

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