Learning not brought to You by the letter A

The video below is a great example of really looking at what motivates people to learn.  So often schools seem to miss the mark in motivating their students.  There is an intrinsic motivator in all students, the key for schools and educators is to tap into this to really achieve success.  Simple saying that all students are motivated by grades leaves out a huge portion of the students population.  Many students are not motivated by grades and often are turned away from school by them. Watch the video below as Dr. Tae discusses how many students are motivated today.

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Failure is How We Learn

I have always been struck by how education views failure.  Failure is how we learn!  So why is it that in education we punish students for failing?  We should encourage and motivate our students to try again, not punish them with a poor grade.  We live in a world that needs creativity and exploration of new ideas.  So as educators we should be trying to cultivate creativity.  Not every idea will be a success students need to realize that life is full of failures, but this does not mean to give up or just move on but reset and try again.  This fundamental idea really needs to be looked at in education.  Do current grading systems really work to cultivate creativity or are they pushing conformity?  As I begin a new year with my students I really am looking at ways to break this old mode of education and find ways to foster student creativity.  To accomplish this I need to keep students motivated and engaged this is my “One Thing” that I mentioned in an earlier post.  The world is changing and as educators we need to change with it to truly prepare our students for todays work force.

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Why are we addressing only 1/2 the issue of school reform?

As a teacher today I have often heard colleagues, parents, and administration talk of the apathy and lack of work ethic from students today.  I know there have been times in class that I have wondered that myself.  When I think of this subject, I often wonder is it the students or is it the education system.  Kids are often bored at school. We all know this and, as a teacher, I see it every day.  Teachers try to engage students and keep their motivation and interest, but it does not always work.  No matter what teachers do, the structure of the school is still the same. Every 50 minutes their is a bell, and after a couple of classes there is lunch, then a couple more classes, then they go home. While teachers can alter what happens in their rooms quite effectively, in many cases the atmosphere of the school does not change.

For true education reform we have to change the way students go to school.  A series of classes and heavily structured day may have worked in the past, but are they working today? With all of the talk of school reform and what happens in the classroom ,should we not consider also how the overall day is structured for the students?  All educators know that an atmosphere can have a profound effect on student achievement.  Reform in the classroom is only part of the equation.  Home life and the educational system as a whole is the other half of the equation.  Without addressing all of the issues affecting our schools, true reform will not happen.

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Education is like a math problem TEACHER + STUDENT + PARENT = SUCCESSFUL EDUCATION.   To get the correct answer you must have all of the data correctly imputed into the equation.   If you are missing any one of the three, your answer will be incorrect.  In education today we seem to be focusing on one aspect of the equation – the teacher.  While this attention is good and the ideas being generated are beneficial, it is still only part of the equation.  Often times we over look the role of the student and parents in this equation.

Over the past week, I have had three different conversations with students that have made me ponder this topic.  My conversation went like this.  “Billy – what’s going on buddy? I’m not getting much in the way of work from you.”  Billy responds with, ” Yeah I know.”   “Well Billy if I don’t get some work ,how are you going to pass this class?”  Billy then responds with, “I guess I won’t.”  “Don’t you want to be able to get a good job and provide for a family in the future?”  Billy responds with, “Yeah but my parent never graduated, and they do just fine.”  The equation in this instance is broken.

Often times educational reform does not consider the needs of the students and the culture in which the student lives.  These are two critical components of the educational equation.  Without addressing these needs, we can fire every teacher, create new laws, and new curriculum; but we will still get the wrong answer, because we have only addressed one aspect of the equation.  All of the government plans and programs address the teacher and set goals for schools, but none of this can be achieved if we do not address the needs of the students and our country’s view of education.

Everyone agrees that education is a priority in our culture.  But is it truly?  If it is a priority, then we as a society need to do whatever we can to support and improve education.  Currently, all we see are cuts  in education, so obviously this is not a priority.  If  it was, we would look at other areas in budget to make cuts.  This is not to say that we should not make any cuts in education, but rather if it was a true priority cuts would be minimal.  To reform education we must address all of the parts of the equation.

If we as a society truly support education, then we need to show that we do.  When we look at educational reform we must look at student needs, society’s view of education, and teaching standards and address all aspects of the equation to truly alter our educational system.  We have to remember the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  True reform must contain all of the elements of the equation to truly be successful.

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