Every year there is a new training or curriculum that teachers are forced to implement in their classroom. While some of them are beneficial, most of them will fade away with the next newest education fad. With all of the changes in how we teach, it should be assumed that American students are getting smarter. However, our graduation rates are still low and our students still lag behind other industrial countries in reading, math, and science.
There are methods that we have used in the past that were effective. Why we stopped doing them is anyone’s guess. I propose we bring the following back to public schools:
1. Phonics and spelling should be taught in the early grades. Remember when you had a spelling book and you learned the rules of the English language? Spelling is a thing of the past. Students today don’t know how to spell or sound out a word they don’t know. They don’t even know how to look it up in a dictionary either!
2. Reading should be taught at the student’s level. One of the most frustrating things we do in the classroom is teach reading to a classroom of students when they read at different levels. Students who need to read at a lower level should be placed in a class with students who read at the same level. The idea of the bright students pulling up the kids who need extra help is absurd. Students who need extra help should be in a small class with a trained teacher.
3. Schools should focus on writing. It seems that students do not know how to write a paragraph. Since spelling has been thrown out of the window, some students seem illiterate. CEO’s are hiring English majors to send memos because their employees cannot write a basic letter.
4. Technical Education- Some schools have phased out technical education classes at high schools because they feel that everyone should go to college. The reality is that a lot of students are dropping out of school. If we could keep them in school and train them in a career, they would be less likely to commit crimes or get stuck in a low wage job. We should also offer ROTC in every high school. Students need options, and college is not for everyone.
5. Music, Art, and Physical Education should be in every school. Schools are so focused on standardized tests that they have eliminated or reduced the arts. Studies show that the arts increases I.Q. and academics. When students fail, schools take away P.E. and make them take an extra math class. We wonder why so many students are overweight and ADHD. Children need a break and an outlet. They can’t focus on academics all day.
6. Dress codes should be enforced in every school. When I was growing up, students could not attend school in flip flops, tank tops, saggy jeans, and Daisy Duke shorts. School is a very serious place, and it is difficult to concentrate with such a lax dress code. When I was in college, I noticed that the African students were dressed in slacks or suits. I asked him why Africans dressed up for school. He told me that going to school is a privilege, and that they took education seriously.
7. Teachers should have control of the classroom. When I was growing up, the teacher was the authority in the classroom. In the modern classroom, the children and their parents are in control. If a teacher offends a child, the parent complains to the principal without even talking to the teacher. It was also the teacher who decided if a child was promoted to the next grade. That era is over.
8.Students should learn their multiplication facts. As a middle school teacher, I am appalled at the fact that so many students don’t know their multiplication facts. When I was in school, we had drills every day. Some students struggle in algebra because they are so busy trying to figure out how to multiply that they can’t do more complex task.
9. Teachers should create real tests and not rely on multiple choice tests. Multiple choice tests are easy, but they don’t measure intelligence. Before multiple choice tests, students had to write out their answers and explain. Anyone can perfect the art of guessing. Whenever I give a test, my students ask if it will be multiple choice. They love multiple choice tests because they don’t have to think as much.
10. Homework should be expected. Today’s parents complain about homework because their children have other things to do after school such as sports or Facebook. American students spend less time in school and study less than students in other industrial nations. As a result, we are losing our position as the most educated nation. In schools today, we are told to not give homework lasting more than 15 minutes and not penalize students that don’t do it. How else are they supposed to retain what they learn? Students spend a limited amount of time at school.
She made a timid smile and told me it was a stress ball. “I always cling to it in stressful situations” I asked her: “Are you in a stressful situation right now?” she nodded. I then asked her why she thought that way. She explained, she sought to share her story so I could include it in the program upcoming newsletter. Furthermore, she wanted to see her son join the program. I opened my eyes wide; surprised to see she was the first parent to believe a disease education program was necessary in shaping healthy behaviors. She can see that I was shocked and filled with gratitude. Brenda explained to me that by age 2, she started to show unsettling behaviors and bad temper. Her mother considered here petulance normal behavior from a needy and difficult child. She continued to explain that by age 7, she tried to kill herself and wrote her first suicide letter.
Fortunately her sister found it in time and saved her. She told me, back then in the 80s, there were no health education pamphlets or brochures straightforward to aid her mother understand what was happening to her. The type of technology that we now have was absent back then. Nonetheless, she was admitted into therapy; Brenda months and years were spend in and out of therapy as she continued to demonstrate odd behaviors. At 12 years old she got a prescription drug for depression which gave her an allergic reaction. In the meantime, she attempted many unsuccessful suicides. Brenda lost hope of ever getting better and to living a customary life. She dropped out of high school and sheltered herself in the house. She attempted jumping out of a building in an effort to call for help. She sought after someone to understand why she was always ill-tempered. Doctors were clueless and could not provide any accurate answer.
She was confined in an isolated room free from anything that she could use to harm herself. She was interrogated, analyzed, tested and put on different types of medications. She was a wreck and did not know why she was who she was and why she had to go through what she was going through. She did not wish for her mother to constantly spend money for her health. She wanted to depart from this world to provide her mother with a stress free life. She was prescribed medications to manage her mood swing and to control her temper. Her mother had to find a new doctor and get a different health perspective — Brenda, her mother and sister moved out of state to find a better cure. They met with another doctor who diagnosed Brenda with Bi-polar disorder. She had to be on a daily regimen to keep her mood swing at bait so she can have a normal life. Brenda finally went back to school and started to reintegrate society. Brenda got married and birth a child whom she named Derrick. Derrick was 7 years old and Brenda was worn out that Derrick was diagnosed with autism due to immunization. Brenda was scared she wasn’t up for the challenge attributable to her own personal issues but in addition she did not understand the illness her son was experiencing. Sitting amongst the guest throughout my survey session, she was bound to talk with me and command me for the work I was doing in the community. She wanted children to learn about diseases to forge health conscious adults. She thought, if a child could learn about diseases and carry that knowledge into adulthood then he would be more equipped and educated to deal with health challenges when they arise.