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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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  • May 8 2013: As a substitute teacher I am surprised that so many of the lesson plans provide almost no interaction with the students. The kids seem so amazed when I get up in front of the room and actually talk to them about the subject, or write on the board to illustrate a concept.

    Have we forgotten that kids think?

    In one 3rd grade class I took questions from kids a the end of the day. One little boy asked, "If you are paralyzed from head to toe do your eyeballs move." I didn't know, but I was able to explain to the child how to find out the answer. But was that a THINKING question or not!

    In another class (kindergarten) I gave the kids a "word of the day" (nocturnal). I repeated the word the whole day and the kids loved it. Five weeks later I did the same class, and asked the kids what their word was and every single kid remembered and KNEW THE DEFINITION and could explain it in their own words!

    In a middle school math class (7th grade) the kids were having trouble with FRACTIONS. I showed several of them an easier way to do the work, using tally marks, and although their goal was only to get to a score of 85, (why was that the set goal?) several were VERY excited when they were able to get scores in the 90s using just a little trick.

    So, if these kids are THINKING, and if they can LEARN how to do simple math just using an alternative approach, why are we losing so many of them in our present school system?

    I have learned something from working with the kids. I should have been a teacher all my life, and that there is more than one way to help kids learn. I have even noticed that in classes where the discipline is a major problem, if the kids are ENGAGED they tend to act a LOT better!!!

    IMHO, there may be a couple of ways to improve our education system. First, look at what WORKS (in all the countries who outshine us) and copy some of the methods. Second, ENGAGE our kids in the learning process.
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      May 8 2013: The lesson plan a teacher leaves for a sub is often quite unlike the lesson the teacher would teach were she there, particularly if the teacher has no idea who the sub will be.
      • May 8 2013: And I do understand that. However I have also subbed as a teacher assistant and in classes as inclusion teacher so I have been able to observe how they teach on a regular basis. In addition some of the classrooms are sort of two combined, with no wall between at the side area where teacher desks are between the two rooms. So in that case I have also been able to see and hear what the teacher in the other room was doing. While that is not EVERY teacher, I have seen several and those I have observed really do not seem to be doing as much TEACHING as they are just handing out papers, collecting them, and going on to the next subject each day. I just have not observed much dialog going on. I guess I need to see more classes.
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          May 8 2013: I hope you will see more.

          What I cannot tell is whether you are interpreting the absence of lecture as an absence of teaching. In inquiry-based classrooms, or "flipped" classrooms, the teacher circulates among students as they work in groups, asking questions and encouraging students to learn via their small group discussions as they work through the questions/problems at hand. Teachers aim to be alert to when their input is actually needed rather than answering things kids could, with a bit of guidance or interaction with peers, answer for themselves.The period's work then may be pulled together in a full class plenary in which students report in in a way that is channeled by the teacher but as much as possible the findings and analysis are drawn from the students.

          This should look like a lot of discourse going on about the work at hand but less teacher-talking than the traditional models of decades ago.
    • May 8 2013: Dee, have you seen Sugata Mitra's cincept, SOLE? He won the 2013 TED prize with his wish to build a "school in the cloud" which is all about what you describe - engaging kids to think, to ask questions, and to find answers. His work is truly inspiring, and you can get involved!
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      May 8 2013: I wish I'd had a substitute like you when I was in school! Most subs are far less motivated than you. And yes, it really is amazing how engaged kids can be when you take the time to open up the world for them a bit.

      As to that particular question from that particularly bright young child. If someone is a quadriplegic and unable to move either arms or legs due to a spinal cord or neck injury, they almost always have the ability to move their faces, speak, look, smell and hear. Most of the head is run by 12 cranial nerves that never enter the spinal cord at all. It's all just how we are wired together with neurons.
      • May 8 2013: I did learn the answer to that very interesting question! I was simply floored to have a young child even ask it. It made me wonder what motivated the question, and also about the though processes of the student.

        I always try to engage the kids, and always try to provide at least ONE fact about the work that is not covered in the material, and try to make it something that will encourage the students to look for more info on their own.

        I just love the look in a kids eyes when he/she learns something. Their eyes just light up. It makes the day worthwhile!

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