Education, politics, and anything else that catches my attention.
If you are an active learner you will learn. If you are waiting for
someone to deliver it to you, make it “relevant”, make it fun – you will
be left behind.
Problem is, there are a lot of kids, maybe most, who don't lie at either of those extremes. Those are the kids for whom a properly trained and motivated professional is the difference between success and failure.Unfortunately, the public education system, as it's currently structured, is inherently indifferent to properly trained and properly motivating professionals. A bum's as good as a Marva Collins clone as far as public education in aggregate's concerned.
You are correct, especially in your first paragraph. Unfortunately, though, too many students who fail do so in part because they are not active learners (as defined above). They *could* succeed, but they *choose* not to.So the point isn't that *most* students don't fall into this box, it's that most *who fail* do.
But they're kids. They can't sign contracts, or at least be compelled to abide by them. They're assumed to be irresponsible by nature. Hence legal limitations on the sorts of decisions they're allowed to make. Holding those kids responsible for properly ascertaining the value of an education, an education that won't have that value for a very long time from the point of view of a child, and consistently acting on that judgment, is a bad idea. If a fifteen year-old is judged too irresponsible to drive a car why should they be held responsible for judging the value of an education?Not to say that kids won't judge the value of an education but that brings us around to my first point - if the public education system is indifferent to the teaching skill and commitment of professionals that are hired why should the kids place a greater weight on the importance of education?
The problem is what is happening now is that students are being thrown into the deep end of the pool without any sort of guidance. Administrators have bought into the dogma that "digital natives" will seek knowledge. While that may be true for a few, for the majority it means plugging in as an answer whatever comes up first on Google.
Yes, but being an active learner isn't just something that successful kids are and weak students aren't. How does one become an active learner? How did environment and upbringing influence and create that active learner identity? From what we know about learning - well explained in Paul Tough's How Children Succeed - active learning can and must be taught and nurtured. That is the nature of gaps in achievement. It's not just that some kids work harder and the rest are lazy - but too often the education field has spent time blaming the kids for not being better students.
While that's partially true, we also can't let kids off the hook by saying "he/she didn't have the greatest environment, poor baby". At some time, and I think high school is a good time, we can and should expect more than excuses. A little introspection, a little work. Something.
BTW, I want to go on record as completely and unequivocally agreeing with Allen on this.It may be a first, and I'm happy to have found common ground with one of my sharpest philosophical adversaries.
What mazenko said ... active learners are active either because of innate ability, or, more likely a strong educationally focused home. And they will still benefit from being drawn in -- and, in fact, are probably the first to abandon what they perceive to be a sub par learning environment. I know that I tuned out quickly to the the teachers who just droned on ...still did fine, but not as well as I might have. Those who have no family to get them excited about learning have no other place to get it rather than school ...so, we can smugly say it shouldn't matter, or we can try to make our classes interesting
"We can try to make our classes interesting", but, to whom? The kids who have the expected, appropriate background in the subject and who are able and willing to do their assignments satisfactorily? The kids who have been passed along without learning to read/write well enough to handle the course material? By putting both groups in the same class, as is now common, is cheating both groups.
Anonymous . . . BS. An interesting class is an interesting class. It's still interesting if the kids DON"T do their assignments. That is their choice. The problem is, the assumption that being interesting guarantees success. It doesn't. Someone who won't do the work still doesn't pass. The difference is is ...the smart ones will pass regardless. But everyone else? Every thing you can do to increase the level of entertainment value will increase the likelihood that they will pass. And having taught economics for quite some time? There are certain lessons where the less mathematically adept teach the calculus students something -- almost every time-- because Alfred Marshall got his axes labelled incorrectly, and it makes economics almost backwards. So, the mixing of different groups is not in and of itself a problem.
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