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What can we do to change education?

My name is Hunter. I am a senior in High School and my english class recently watched this video.
This question was asked to me by a teacher to me back in 9th grade. His take on this was that there should not be an A - F grading scale because all kids do is shoot for an A. That's all. Nothing past that. All they need is an A to make everyone happy. I agree with this statement 100%. The problem is, how do we fix this? What scale can we use in order to make schooling more beneficial to future students? How do we get students to reach their full potential?

Topics: education

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    Apr 24 2013: I always feel when a topic like this arises that if you take a step back and look at the educational system that if you're not a person who 'achieved well' in school then you're just bitter so I really just bite my tongue and hold back an opinion. That's not how I feel but how I think people perceive me.

    I saw this lovely picture of a man sitting at a desk addressing a plethora of animals saying "Right, I want to you climb this tree" and in the line up of animals were elephants, monkeys, giraffes, penguins..etc.. It oversimplifies the situation completely but you get the idea.

    One thing that I witnessed in school was negativity towards asking 'questions'. People felt that questions were dumb or they were 'wrong', clearly I'm missing something here because how can a question be wrong? Sure, there is a time and a place for questions but a classroom of all places would be assumed to be a safe bet. I would say that throughout most people's lives people are scared to ask questions for fear of being punished. Maybe not even fear of being punished but a fear of being scolded by peers or something.

    FNU Sheany, I loved your post. Would it be fair to say that when you enjoy doing something it comes more naturally and is easier. Perhaps if students were to identify what they actually enjoy doing, they would learn better. But I suppose a lot of other issues come into play when thinking about motivation in education. Competition of 'hobbies', be it video games or the likes, or sports..etc.. These things aren't bad, don't get me wrong. But they compete.

    Sarah Myers: What constitutes "a better person", and who decides what's better? Would that be the syllabus? What is core and key values? Better in self-improvement or in relation to.. well, in relation to the given norm, or in relation to you and your values? The only way for some to learn is if they want to learn. But yes, issues that you discussed hit very true. Children don't understand complex emotional issues.
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      Apr 25 2013: Henry, you make several interesting points. One is that not managing to succeed in school can make people extremely bitter, which has a separate negative impact from their not having learned whatever they might have had learned. One sees the scars of that standing in the way of learning effectively over the lifetime, even if people don't realize it.

      For example, I suspect, but cannot prove, that people who struggled in school are more likely to see conspiracies under every rock than those who succeeded in school. They may be more likely too to follow without serious examination anyone who sells them an alleged conspiracy. Many people, I suspect, look strenuously later in life for the validation they did not get early in life.

      Which brings us to another of your points. That is, it is vital to engage kids in their schooling by tapping into their interests and connecting what they learn in the classroom to their interests and aspirations. It is also important to give kids challenging enough content so that they can feel a sense of satisfaction in meeting the challenge but not so much challenge that they will confront a string of failures. This shapes an attitude of enjoying learning experiences, an attitude that serves for a lifetime. A side benefit is that kids are less likely to harbor a resentment into adulthood of those who actually know more about a subject than they do. To learn one needs to be able to consider what other people offer and to learn from others rather than shutting them out because of an unconscious hatred for teachers or learned people.

      I went to ordinary public schools now a long time ago and don't remember ever thinking we were discouraged from asking questions. I do think small children can be afraid of asking questions of strict teachers. I wonder how often students remember that as having been discouraged to ask questions.
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        Apr 26 2013: I think you're both right about SOME people who struggled in school. I have seen friends and colleagues become embittered by the experience and absolutely determined to go in the opposite direction (for my high school friends it involved joining the peace corps, for my college friends it usually meant work in corporate America).

        I would add just one more deviation, though. Struggle in our current system can also make people determined to change it. I wasn't a terrible student in school, but homework definitely interested me less than friends. I can clearly remember a biology teacher in 9th grade telling me I probably forgot my homework in my locker because I was too busy chatting with the other cheerleaders about the dance on Saturday (it was a Friday and I was wearing a uniform at the time).

        While the sexist remark did bother me, (and I made it clear to my counselor that it did), I didn't follow the path you describe. Rather, I went to college. Became engrossed in Victorian America and Sonny's Blues through my History an English programs. Applied that content knowledge to my M.Ed. Taught public, private, online, and urban high school students. Completed my Ph.D.

        Now I work with people in every field of education imaginable and spend my days convincing them that our current system just doesn't serve students in the way it could and should. I don't remember my biology teacher with bitterness, but rather one (of many) signs that it was my job to advocate for students like myself.

        And despite all the things that are still a struggle for our students, I think those efforts have paid off in small ways that will be apparent down the road. My kids are in elementary school, so I sincerely hope so anyway :)
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          Apr 26 2013: I know it can go both ways, just as some children from trying home environments become wonderful parents themselves or creative geniuses, while others may come to withdraw or even abuse their own children.

          The damage it does to some people to be embittered by their school experiences to me warrants being attentive to this frequent scenario.

          Everyone understands, I think, that there is plenty of room for improvement in schooling. As you have a Masters in Education and a PhD, you also know that schools have not been standing still, content with doing exactly what they did in 1950 but rather try one experiment after another to see whether the new model of curriculum or pedagogy works better or worse than the last. Meanwhile, some kids have a knack and disposition to extract a lot of learning from flawed learning environments and others less so. I would like to see kids have the resilience to make the most of the learning opportunities through which they pass, particularly because most of the environments though which they pass over the lifetime will not be customized to optimize their learning, even if that would be the ideal. Users, if you will, can do some customizing from their end.

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