If I could change how schools worked, isn’t that the billion dollar question for our country right now? Actually, it has been the question for the past two decades. Somewhere we lost our way with the public educational system and I think that we are having a hard time trying to pinpoint exactly where and how it went awry. I disagree with what conservatives are pushing for, and that is more spending cuts in the educational budgets and trying to weaken the teachers unions. I think that we have put too much emphasis on standardized testing and have stressed too much teaching to the standardized test.
I believe that teachers need to have smaller classrooms so that they can really get to know the strengths and weaknesses of all their students. I also think that using your advanced students to help the other students creates a team oriented environment, creates sharing and common ground thereby hopefully reducing the emergence of cliques and the us versus them mentality. Less social stress in the classroom goes a long way to promoting a healthier atmosphere for learning.
I also think that schools need to provide the financially poorer students with access to healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Students who have full warm bellies are geared to success, physically and mentally, they also feel that someone cares for their well-being over and beyond their home life. Children do exceptionally well when they have a broader support system other than their family unit. When a child has a great teacher, a great coach or counselor, just having that relationship gives them a leg up and the school work falls into place.
There is more to school than standardized test scores, they are not a good indicator of future performance. There is a lot of research from other countries, whose students are consistently out performing our students, that support the need for more interactive approaches to students delivers much better results. The Scandinavian countries, particularly Finland is doing exceptional work in the educational arena and it would behoove us as a nation to perhaps look outside of ourselves as a society and see how others are dealing with the technological age and teaching. It couldn’t hurt.