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edward long

Association of Old Crows


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Teachers should get tough.

In the recent WSJ Saturday Essay Joanne Lipman broaches a controversial idea for improving public education. To prompt you to read her essay here are her talking points: 1) A little pain is good for you. 2) Drill baby, drill. 3)Failure is an option. 4) Strict is better than nice. 5) Creativity can be learned. 6) Grit trumps talent. 7) Praise makes you weak. 8) Stress makes you strong.


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    Oct 1 2013: Edward, In my work in the prison system I came to the conclusion that the "cure" would be to have designer prisons ... match the crime with the facility, counselors, needs, security level and so forth.

    The same could be said of the education system. I have often advocated the dual system for college bound and manual trades. This would eliminate part of the problem the article is addressing. Kids who do not want to be there. If the dual system were in effect then another phase could be addressed the trouble makers / anti school / etc ... By isolating them their individual issues could be addressed.

    In the mid 40s a man called Dr Spock came into vogue. All kids are good ... and so forth. Much of what we are seeing is a result of just a few things. 1) Fear of lawsuits ... 2) The Dr Spock effect .... 3) Door latch parents ... 4) The purchase of kids love through money / toys / electronics ... 5) The lack of meaningful consequences ... 6) The absence of respect for people or property .... 7) Lack of immediate access to role models .... I could go on but we could all point to problems.

    Much of the problem is how the federal government and the state governments have taken over education without input from the professionals. Schools are being rated by factors that are contrary to good teaching practices. If a teacher fails a student the rating system punishes the school in the ratings. The teachers are locked into a set schedule of presentation to cover items that will be tested. In fact they are "required" to teach the test.

    The prescription offered would doom the school and punish the teachers / administrators under current constraints. It can only get worse ... states / schools must comply as the federal government mandates or funding goes away. The first step in resolution would be to get the federal government out of the states business. However, just the opposite is occurring.

    Wish I had a better answer ... I don't.
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      Oct 1 2013: I agree Robert that the implementation of any changes to the current federal government controls will be accomplished politically and not on the classroom teacher level. But, here on the grassroots level we can take another look at Spock's philosophy and consider whether the move away from toughness was a wise one. Your final sentence could be a template for use in many debates and conversations: "The first step in resolution would be to get the federal government out of the states business."

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