Friday, September 12, 2008

Nikki, Dunte, Sam O, and Alan's Group

Thus far, the readings have noted the importance of outside influences (parents, inspirational people, media) in motivating the authors through school. How could the public educational system provide similar stimulation for individual success without defeating the pursuit of an improved general standard?


roryrowley said...

I believe that most students enter the school environment with a lot of other things on their mind, almost anything and everything but school. Whether it be home life, work, relationships, friends, sports, clubs ect. If students are taught early how to leave all of those things behind when they enter a classroom room, they would improve their power to focus on the task at hand. As someone who was a high school athlete, i don't think this technique would be hard to teach. When playing sports you are taught to leave everything else off the court, field, or track and just play the game. If students could be taught the ability to focus on the thing important at that time, such as school, either at home or in school, the students abilities have a greater room and range to grow and prosper.

Sam O. said...

I could not disagree more. All of the items that you have listed should be taken into account when teaching. We should teach through an individuals strengths rather than trying ignore them. People learn best when you relate the material to what they have already experienced and understand. Telling them forget this is only going to make the teachers job harder. I can not think of one situation where knowing less made learning easer.

Geliebtjunge said...

Something which John Taylor Gatto points to in his article, Against School, was that the main problem facing the education system is boredom.
From what I have seen, boredom strikes hardest among the young, the hyper, and the immature, which is to say, I get bored very often. I think if children were taught the value of self-discipline and self-motivation, this problem would be far less prevalent, and the individual and the masses would thrive.

Geliebtjunge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geliebtjunge said...

@ Sam O
I think what Rory meant, and you can correct me if i'm wrong, was that many times, a student's feelings or emotions about something that happened with a girl/boy-friend, or something else like that gets in the way of trying to learn.
I can not think of one situation where relationships, friends, sports, or home life have any real meaning in algebra, or many of the general sciences.

Sam O. said...

@gellebtjunge and @roryrowley
My point is that you learn through concrete examples. This means that you draw on the personal experiences of the individual student. By connecting to what a student has already developed interest in you can insure that they remember more about the subject. I believe that by introducing the material in terms of real world examples makes it more memorable lesson. An example from my personal life was the fact that I had a physics teacher that taught, the basic mechanics of physics, from the perspective of wild coyote. I also had a biology teacher that would spend class time relating the concepts of the day to what was happening in the real world around us and how it affect our lives in Santa Fe. By tapping into what the students already know you make it easer for them to form the connection. I think this is a better method rather than presenting the materiel without any tangible explanation. The last example I well leave you with is one from our english class. Every day we have spent some time in class to discuses the issues and how our personal experience have affected us. Now I ask you, how can we present the material without relationships, friends, sports, or home life.

tim said...

After reading the prompt and subsequent responses, I get the feeling that two distinct forms of outside influences exist: those perceived as beneficial and those perceived as harmful in regard to the educational process. Beneficial influences may consist of parents or role models and generally act as motivators for student success. Harmful influences may include "troublesome" friends or television and are usually viewed as merely distractions.

Unfortunately, I theorize it may be difficult to get students to shut off only outside influences that are perceived as "negative." The government has been attempting it for years with its largely ineffective and expensive war on drugs. Distractions are distractions for a reason.

Furthermore, a setting in which students were able to turn off outside stimuli may not be at all worthwhile. Thinking critically generally requires one to think in context. When outside stimuli,a good chunk of the context in most real-world problems, is stripped from the equation, the problem's meaning is in essence lost. Of course, this may be less of a problem in high school, where life's questions come in the form of basically abstract word problems, than in real-world business and engineering situations, where context and outside influences mean everything. Still, it makes sense that a school should teach skills that students will need in the future. After all, very few upper level positions require thinking about concepts in a black-box or "sandbox" setting. That the goal of schools is in fact to prepare students for lower-level positions as opposed to upper-level occupations is for another debate.

Alex said...

I think that you guys may have gone off on a tangent, but I could be wrong, don't mind me.

In response to the question, and this is a more general response than just to the outside influences question, I don't know if there is a way to have every student learn more about their topic of interest individually without losing the general standard. If you have the students learn individually, there are too many factors to consider in a person's education. Everyone has a different life, with different situations, and not everyone learns the same way. There are too many factors between every person's life to properly institute a individualistic teaching approach with a general standard tied to it. If you do institute a general standard, you lose the much of the individuality in the schools that you are looking for. That is, unless, you are able to split every person into a group that experiences the same issues that they have to deal with in their lives. Which I don't think would be easy thing to do; and then, you have to take into account that everyone has a different learning style. Personally, at least for the schools that I have gone, which admittedly are schools that are in the "upper school class" classification, the current system works well. For those in the "lower class schools", it doesn't; and in regards to having an individual style of teaching, there are so many more students in the "lower class schools", that I think there are too many students for the individual teaching approach to work properly. You simply don't have enough teachers.

Now, in regards toward an outside influence, I went to Monte del Sol where they have the mentorship program. Essentially, you find an area of interest, go to the coordinator of the mentorship program, and they'll will help you find someone in the area, that can teach you about your area of interest. You then have a year to study with your teacher, generally a professional in the field, and you present your findings to the school at the end of the year; along with a 20 page portfolio, documenting everything you have done. For the 20 page report you could write 15 pages and include pictures, or write 5 pages, and have the rest be pictures. The main problem I find with this system, is that the coordinators and teachers who grade the presentations are too lax. I have seen in the two years I was there, some really bad presentations that shouldn't have even been presented. The teachers still give them passing grades, which is unfortunate because the students really didn't learn anything. The other problem is that my school was inundated with mentorships this last year, with 180 or them or so. The school population, counting seventh and eighth grades through High School had 400 or so students. It would be hard to institutionalize at a much larger school.