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View Diary: Parents and Educators Pack Hearing to Oppose Turnaround of Chicago School (63 comments)

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  •  If I actually had some power to change the schools (1+ / 0-)
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    Linda Wood

    I would work on these things:

    1) more education for parents as regards how they can help with the education of their children.  This is the main cause of inequity in schooling -- the wealthy have an advantage in the educational toying of their children, and they intend to keep it that way.

    2) more books for school libraries, and more events promoting a culture of literacy -- if you really want to make sure children are learning, as opposed to preparing them for specific tests or making sure they think ideologically pure thoughts, you need to provide them with a) reading and b) elements of a culture that values literacy and the sort of knowledge gained through reading.  The rest of the literacy problem will be resolved through student motivation once you have good readers.

    3) a more direct focus upon learning from the natural world -- what used to be called "nature study" and "outdoor education."  Giving students a chance to understand the planet is at least as important as mathematical literacy.

    I really don't understand the concern with "curricular products," much less "skills."  To create a good school you give students the tools they need and provide them with an environment in which they can feel motivated to learn what they want to learn.  Nobody wants to learn "skills" outside of any applied context, and "curricular products" have always been a substitute for books, computers, and the real world.

    "I think the Obama campaign would be taking this populist-sounding tack even if Occupy had never happened." -- Paul Street

    by Cassiodorus on Fri Feb 10, 2012 at 01:54:30 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  I appreciate your response and (0+ / 0-)

      recommend it wholeheartedly. I agree in particular about your point here:

      if you really want to make sure children are learning... you need to provide them with a) reading and b) elements of a culture that values literacy and the sort of knowledge gained through reading.  The rest of the literacy problem will be resolved through student motivation once you have good readers.
      The longest running controversy and struggle about curriculum in American schools has had to do with the teaching of reading, precisely because of your point, that everything else a child experiences in school depends on that skill, including math of course. Questionable teaching methods, especially in the earliest grades, have been sold as curricular products and have been challenged by parents, teachers, and community members for the last 2 decades. This is one of the most crucial areas of debate that have led to the call for reform.

      Your point about the natural world, so beautifully stated, is also connected to this debate about the teaching of skills. I agree that love, respect, wonder, and awe of the planet are intrinsically precious and important. But in our time the very survival of the natural world is threatened by our own hands and by our own ignorance. We cannot stand up to Monsanto if we don't know what a gene is or if we don't know what petrochemical toxins are, or how they work, because our schools have introduced us to concepts but haven't provided us with solid skills.

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