James H B...
Education Has Fallen Off The Track I really hate to be the bearer of bad news but the reality of life is not every-one is going to college when they leave high school. If this statement is really true then why does education deal with everyone like they're college material? I graduated from high school almost forty years ago. When I was a student there were three courses of study that I could take. The first course was college prep; this provided some challenging classes that got you ready for the rigors of college. The second course was business. This prepared students for the business world and exposed students to things like Junior Achievement, and a club called Future Business Leaders of America. (FBLA) The third course of study was general studies. This was a hodgepodge of courses that was like a high school liberal arts program. I graduated from the eighth grade and it was recommended by my eighth grade teachers that I be placed in a general studies program. I didn't choose general studies I was placed in it. I took just about any classes I wanted, from college prep classes to general classes, and I did fine. I really wasn't college material, but I got accepted into a state school and received a college diploma. I still haven't figured out what was so horrible about a group of teachers recommending that I be placed into a course of studies that was based on my abilities. The world of education has gotten away from something that was very common many years ago, and that's called tracking. There were always two or three classes in every grade that addressed the individual needs of students who needed to be challenged, and the needs of students who needed extra help. The groups were never co-mingled because the instruction would be too hard for some of the students and not hard enough for other students. Somewhere along the way someone came up with idea that tracking kids had a negative affect on their self esteem, so it was decided that all students should be placed in the same classroom in order to receive the same instruction. This was supposed to improve the way a child felt about himself as a student. It would make him feel smarter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Students who have difficulty and who are placed in a classroom with kids who are more academically advanced than them are always trying to figure out why they can't do the same work as the smarter kids. In simple terms they start to wonder, why am I so dumb? The other challenge is for the teacher who has to spend an obscene amount of time working with the slower students, while the more advanced students may be left to work by themselves. The idea that all students can learn at the same pace and in the same classroom is flawed and, believe it or not, has become a huge money maker for those who have been smart enough to take advantage of this movement. Differentiated Instruction, Multiple Intelligence, and Inclusion strategies are all programs that have been born out of the idea that all students should be heterogeneously grouped. These programs were developed and sold to colleges and public schools as a ruse to convince educators that this type of education works for all students. Once the decision is made to implement the program thousands of dollars have to be spent in teacher training so the teachers understand the process. This just puts more stress on the teacher and gets them more concerned about the means of educating their students and not the end which is have the students mastered the material that was taught. The developers of these programs make their money, but it is costly to the school districts that choose to use them as well. Most elementary classes today have two and maybe three teachers present in one room in order to work with the varying levels of the students. One teacher in the room may only work with 4 or 5 students. This same teacher could work with 20 students if the students were tracked. Districts pay thousands of dollars more in teacher salaries by hiring one teacher to work with a very small number of students. Many students are not prepared for or capable of some rigorous form of education that does nothing but constantly frustrate them academically. During the last 40 years, I have witnessed the dismantling of industrial arts shops that were used to introduce students to carpentry, electronics, metal work, auto mechanics, and even home repair. These shops were dismantled in order to make room for huge computer labs, additional classroom space. One district used the space for a weight room for the football team. Does anyone need a carpenter an electrician or a plumber anymore? Better yet does anyone know what they charge? These are fine careers that pay a handsome salary. Education has even moved away from shared time programs that train and apprentice students for careers that society needs to support the economy. The Voc-Tech programs as they're called seemed to focus more on technical aspect than on the vocational. The majority of these programs have rigorous acceptance requirements and works with the students who have the ability to perform scholastically. The balance of these programs work with students who are cognitively impaired and provide a setting similar to that of a sheltered workshop of the 1970's and 80's. The vocational schools are not providing enough training for those students who truly want to become trained carpenters, plumbers, and electricians. The real tragedy of the situation is that there are students who want to become master tradesmen. In order for them to accomplish their goal they must enroll in post secondary programs at their cost and spend another two or three years in training in order to do something that could have otherwise been provided at the high school level. I have a wonderful brother in law who is a master tradesman and can do anything from carpentry to plumbing, and electrical work. He operates heavy machinery, installs gas tanks and pumps, and is a demolition expert. He can do anything. He is now 65 years old and continues to work at his crafts. I know that he didn't go to college. He learned many different trades as a young man by doing the work himself and by working with other people. I know he was definitely smart enough to go to college but as he was growing up it may not have been his first choice. He chose to learn a trade or should I say many trades. He learned to do the jobs that not everyone could do or wanted to do. Everyone is not cut out to go to college, or to even be in a classroom with kids who are. I don't know what my home would look like if I didn't have a handyman. I also don't know how long my car would keep running if I didn't have a trained mechanic. My brother in law doesn't have to worry about these things because he can fix and repair and build. The other thing that my brother in law doesn't have to worry about is money because he is a millionaire. Visit The Store