Inadequate School System, Part II

When I previously blogged about this topic, it was more or less a general rant about what school systems are doing wrong. There are lots and lots of people (Politicians, I’m looking at you.) who rant and rave, but never get anything done or propose ways something can be done.

I’m not a politician (thank God), nor am I really educated in educational matters, so I don’t even know if the following ideas would be realistic or feasible. I’m just a concerned citizen who has been through the American public school system.

How we can fix our schools:

1. Focus more on teamwork.
Teachers do assign projects that involve working in groups, but I don’t think they do it often enough. Often, group work is mismanaged so that one student ends up doing most of the work while the others slack off. Working in teams is such an important skill to learn for the real world and if school teaches kids that they can delegate all the work to the “smart kid,” then it’s not doing any good.

2. Emphasize public speaking.
Like group work, public speaking isn’t emphasized enough. Students should be required to regularly speak or make presentations in front of the class. Yes, I know most students hate this – I hated it, too. Public speaking is a huge fear, and it’s better to face that fear sooner, rather than later.

3. Don’t be so lenient.
In the past, I have had teachers who would grade on a curve when the class doesn’t do well on the test. Teachers simply don’t have the time to go back and make sure students understand the material – they just plunge ahead to the next topic. Grading on a curve may get students a higher grade, but have they learned anything? No.

4. Do away with the “track” system.
In my school district, and probably many others, there are three different tracks a student can choose from when they’re planning to enter high school. These tracks dictate which courses a student is required to take to graduate. There’s the career prep track, the college tech track, and the college/university track. Instead of having tracks that tend to discriminate via income level, (Low-income students usually take the career prep track, while high-income students choose the college/university track.) schools could implement a system that does not foster discrimination by dividing students up into three groups.

5. No more busywork.
In high school, whenever we had a substitute, they’d just hand the student a sheaf of worksheets that we’d have to finish by the end of class. Or we’d have to copy definitions out of the back of the textbook. What good is that? No good at all – and it’s only going to make students restless, angry, and bored.

Anyone else have any thoughts? 🙂

7 thoughts on “Inadequate School System, Part II

  1. You’ve got some great ideas started! I also think parents should have to volunteer at least a couple hours a day to their local schools. Being personally involved, helps keep the childrens education part of the family circle. Many parents sharing their ‘job’ or ‘career’ experiences might help inspire or answer questions for children, from other families… Sharing and team work on all levels….

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    1. Those are good ideas too, Mindy! I appreciate your insight. Parents definitely need to be more involved.

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  2. Maggy, I love your writing ’cause it’s open and honest.
    Your 5 points are right on. In my day, there wasn’t the “track” thing….. we all took pretty much the same classes to graduate (taking languages were the only course difference) and then after HS we were to go to the next step, whatever that was, college, trade etc. That is here in the US. In Europe, where I grew up to the age of 15, the HS years it’s like the college years. Before legally immigrating to the US, I was accepted into one of the Music Schools. 4 yrs there and I would have been ready to teach music in a school, at the ripe age of about 18,19, or I could choose to go to a University (fakultet) and earn a higher degree. For those who didn’t know what they wanted to do, there was a general JR college like school to figure out the next step in ones life.
    Substitute teachers….. I was one…. unless the teacher had specific things the student needed to do, I created my own fun class depending on the grade level. For the HS students, I would bring up a topic for them to discuss and either work in groups to present their view, or have a class discussion where most of the students had a say about their views. None of my Sub classes were EVER uninteresting.

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    1. High school should be a lot more like college in the US, but many students who found high school easy are struggling through college. It may be more due to the change of environment rather than the difficulty of courses, but anyway…
      In America, it also seems that college is a way to delay adulthood rather than a way to send students into it head on. College feels more like an extended version of high school sometimes.
      I wish I had you for a substitute! 🙂
      Thanks, Nada!

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  3. Good thoughts, Maggie. Here’s a few more:

    1. Starting in kindergarten, the focus should be on showing students that learning is FUN! If students are excited about coming to school, then teachers can focus on teaching, instead of being a disciplinarian.

    2. No passing on problems. If a third grader has NOT learned the material, have them repeat the third grade in summer school . . . don’t pass the buck to the fourth grade teacher.

    3. Get parents involved in reinforcing the material at home.

    4. Real life applications ~ instead of basic math, teach measuring by cooking. Instead of multiplication tables, teach kids how to budget their allowances or pay the bills.

    5. Stop awarding trophies in sports to everyone just for showing up. Don’t just reward excellence on the field . . . reward excellence to “team players” who encourage and cooperate, instead of just competing.

    6. Teach students to ask themselves, “Did I do MY best?” Instead of constantly looking to others to give them a pat on the back for mediocrity.

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    1. Yes! Thank you, Nancy. I agree with all of these, especially rewarding mediocrity – there’s way too much of that going on. To succeed, a child must first learn to fail, but if he is constantly praised, then he might never learn…

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