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Old 09-21-2011, 09:00 PM
 
4,044 posts, read 5,944,751 times
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I am finally understanding what is up with the American k-12 educational system. I have been witnessing it with my own eyes, hands on, over the past few weeks of volunteering for the reading centers in my son's K class.

- Now I understand why things are done the way they are done in American classrooms (incredible amount of work and expense per child with relatively poor results, overall).
- Now I understand why teachers are worked to death with overall unimpressive results.
- Now I understand why America needs 1 teacher, 2 para-pros and 1 parent in the classroom when teaching reading and why it divides the class in "ability" groups - all while other countries get the same results or way better with only one teacher in a 35 kids classroom and no separation by ability.

- Now I understand why the schools are desperately trying to come up with ever more fun, poppy, colorful, entertaining, time consuming, game-based teaching methods, literally overwhelming the classrooms with "enrichment" materials that turn most naturally fidgety children into full-blown pathological ADHD-s... only for the schools to be left out of breath, wanting for more, and again, with poor comparative results.

The answer is SO simple no one could ever think about it as THE CORE reason as to why American k-12 education simply suffers.

Urggh...must be the teachers (bust those unions!). Must be the lack of money (pour more over here, more, more, more!). Must be the "diversity" of America (so???). Must be the inherently "boring" nature of conventional schooling (so let's "unschool"!! what an awesome idea!!)...Must be something terribly complex that requires buzzillions in educational research!

In reality the trouble is purely cultural. It's about THE LEASH!!
It's the DISCIPLINE (that is, the lack thereof).
That's all. NOTHING else.

Contemporary American children are NEVER expected to show discipline in school in the first place. It's as simple as that.

By DISCIPLINE I mean: when teacher opens her mouth and engages in the actual process of teaching (as in passing down skills, knowledge, how to-s onto the children) children are expected to freeze in place, eyes forward towards the teacher, ears become funnels, mind focused to the max (teacher calls on students randomly to verify focus), hands at the back, mosquito heard buzzing in the air. No activity starts until the entire class enters this state of concentration. When child budges, child is firmly admonished. Once. When child ignores the request for silence and repeats the offense, child is even more firmly admonished. Twice. Offense is repeated - the child is immediately removed from class (as in "I-mean-business") with serious consequence and without parent running to school to threaten litigious doom and gloom.
Teacher, in general, carries herself as an actual AUTHORITY that commends respect. She is neither constantly smiling (she's rather solemn most of the times), nor is she always accommodating of every "unique sensitivity", "need", "quirk", "learning style" or personality type. She is also NOT addressing students with "honeeey", "sweety", or "baby" all while "honey" couldn't be more comfortable in his skin and couldn't give more of a crap. Teachers make offers kids can't refuse.

Of course, the above scenario is not possible in any American school (many aspects by law!). But this is exactly what the problem is in the first place!!

Kids talk uncalled on. They can't self-regulate tone and talk out loud left and right during class. They can't wait for their turn. They turn around, get up from the table and do something else outside the ongoing activity without the vaguest notion that they are in school and they need to be paying attention. They spread their materials all over during activities, mess them up and talk to the neighboring student about Lord knows what else. They do it because they can and because the leash is long - not because "they are only 5-6, what did you expect?!!".
Their attention spans are allowed to stay at the fly level.
You can simply tell that NO ONE - absolutely NO ONE! - ever sat them down at the beginning of school to explain to them what exactly it means to be in school and what will be expected of them the moment they step in a k-12 institution.

Entering school is an incredibly solemn rite of passage in many cultures. Parents often give children a very serious speech along the lines of "from tomorrow on life will change radically; this is how you will act in the classroom: A,B,C". When kids go from pre-K to K in this country they hardly even notice the difference. K is hardly different from pre-school (where there WAS no leash) and then first grade is hardly different from K...and if discipline becomes a bit easier as kids mature (a big IF, depending on the area), the gains are too small to count.

If the leash were as short as in the scenario above, the results would be amazing even in the most horrible of districts. Guaranteed. Yes, socio-economic status will STILL have its say. And yes, the average kid coming from a low-income family will still not be at the level of the average kid coming from a privileged background. But most schools will be miles above everything they are right now and then some - from the poorest to the greatest - with waaay less work and stress on the part of the teachers and way fewer resources spent aimlessly and unnecessarily.

The reality is that American kids, including those in the prissiest areas, don't have the faintest clue as to what discipline in a classroom means.

It starts at home, of course - and it continues at school. But schools sing the song of the parents simply because they can't hold children to effective disciplinary standards. The culture is too hostile to such an approach so it is out of the question for any principal to consider something like that. Parents would hyperventilate at home at the thought of little darling's self being so "harshly" dealt with.

I should add that I have noticed this type of behavior at an elementary school that consistently ranks towards the top nationally. I can only imagine what happens at schools that don't.

In any case, hats off to what American teachers do. Enormous amount of work with continuous and serious stress. My son's teacher arrives at school between 5:30-6:00 am and she can be found online responding parents' e-mails late at night.

I am still amazed.

Last edited by syracusa; 09-21-2011 at 09:43 PM..
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:35 PM
 
624 posts, read 1,046,418 times
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Agreed...teacher's sandwiched in the middle of a broken program , spending billions of dollars on trivial pursuit and creating excuses with special education programs. If the kid is a student let them them continue on in academic endeavors...if the kid doesn' t give a hoot or cannot do the work because the have a cognitive "disability' let them be trained in a vocation. Novel idea huh?
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:46 PM
 
4,044 posts, read 5,944,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowbill View Post
Agreed...teacher's sandwiched in the middle of a broken program , spending billions of dollars on trivial pursuit and creating excuses with special education programs. If the kid is a student let them them continue on in academic endeavors...if the kid doesn' t give a hoot or cannot do the work because the have a cognitive "disability' let them be trained in a vocation. Novel idea huh?
I like this: "cognitive disability".
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Old 09-22-2011, 06:00 AM
 
20,793 posts, read 52,373,875 times
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Having 3 kids, 1 through high school and 2 almost done, I have NEVER witnessed a lack of classroom discipline in ANY of the schools they have attended. The kids all know that when the teacher is talking, you are quiet. If another classmate is talking, you are quite. You raise your hand to ask a question, etc. Sure there is the occasional child that lacks discipline but they are dealt with. I am still curious where all of your kids go to school that they are such Lord of the Flies type schools where all the kids are hellions, the teachers can't think their way out of a box and the administration sits in their offices obvious to all of this.

Last edited by golfgal; 09-22-2011 at 08:10 AM..
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Old 09-22-2011, 06:09 AM
 
10,139 posts, read 22,414,398 times
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Chaos in the classroom is just another symptom of the failed system. Who is responsible in the classroom? Most kids I see out and about are pretty well behaved, maybe not cowering in fear as the OP seems to want, but ok in public with their parents. Let's face it folks, it is the teachers who fail to earn the respect of children in the classroom.
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:38 AM
 
1,759 posts, read 1,696,885 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
The kids all know that when the teacher is talking, you are quite. If another classmate is talking, you are quite.
You are quite what?

Quote:
You raise your hand to ask a question, etc. Sure there is the occasional child that lacks discipline but they are dealt with. I am still curious where all of your kids go to school that they are such Lord of the Flies type schools where all the kids are hellions, the teachers can't think their way out of a box and the administration sits in their offices obvious to all of this.
Ohhhhno.

I've been a teacher, I've dealt with what we have in classrooms now (and I'm not talking inner-city, I'm talking suburban),
and the OP is right on target.
And yes, the administration is aware. But they have PC issues and fear-of-lawsuits to "worry" about.
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Old 09-22-2011, 08:10 AM
 
20,793 posts, read 52,373,875 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alltheusernamesaretaken View Post
You are quite what?



Ohhhhno.

I've been a teacher, I've dealt with what we have in classrooms now (and I'm not talking inner-city, I'm talking suburban),
and the OP is right on target.
And yes, the administration is aware. But they have PC issues and fear-of-lawsuits to "worry" about.
typo
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Old 09-22-2011, 08:28 AM
 
4,044 posts, read 5,944,751 times
Reputation: 3819
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alltheusernamesaretaken View Post
You are quite what?

Ohhhhno.

I've been a teacher, I've dealt with what we have in classrooms now (and I'm not talking inner-city, I'm talking suburban),
and the OP is right on target.
And yes, the administration is aware. But they have PC issues and fear-of-lawsuits to "worry" about.

For some posters, the definition of discipline is radically different than the definition I suggested in the italicized scenario. If students don't threaten the teacher, they are deemed polite and respectful. No, not that.
If you show me one single public school classroom in America like the one in that scenario, I will eat my words.
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:08 AM
 
Location: Northern MN
3,869 posts, read 12,505,578 times
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In reality the trouble is purely cultural. It's about THE LEASH!!
It's the DISCIPLINE (that is, the lack thereof).
That's all. NOTHING else.

It's not the teachers fault but instead it's the parent's fault.
Lack of parenting skills.

The parent has to take responsibility for their kids education.
You have to do more that just sending the kid to a building with the letters s-c-h-o-o-l on it.
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Arizona
1,206 posts, read 2,094,934 times
Reputation: 1529
The OP is right on target! I was in my daughters classroom this past Tuesday and will be there again today and let me say, I don't know how these kids learn. There were kids talking out of turn, laying down on the floor writing their papers, laughing, walking around, getting up to get a drink of water, without asking etc... I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

I have volunteered since my daughter started school and I have to say that not all of her classes were like this. Some teachers were/are better at controlling than others but too many are uncontrolled.
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