Change Issues in Curriculum and Instruction/Final Assignment Links/Lauren Florin

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Teaching social skills/manners/ethics in the classroom[edit]

I feel that we need to start emphasizing other aspects related to life in our schools (other than academics). Schools today are so focused on the standardized tests, that we have completely abandoned the role of teaching our students key skills that they will need after they graduate. If our students do not have social skills, manners, or ethical standards, they cannot possibly survive in our flat world. Many teachers feel that it is the parent's job to teach these critical skills to their children. However, in today's society, teachers often spend more time with their students in a given week than parents spend with their own children. Due to this, I feel that it is the responsibility of the schools to take ownership over these areas and teach them to every student. This is not something that should only be looked at in the early grades. Teachers at every grade, PK-12, should nurture these skills so that by the time our students graduate, they are well rounded individuals who will be able to succeed in life. Perhaps there should be a curriculum designed to support these aspects. It does not have to be detailed, but maybe it should contain certain components that should be stressed at each grade. I don't know if this is the way to go, but something needs to be done.

The Future of Accountability? -- Dumbing down the test? Incentives for Passing?/Tests geared toward low level learning.[edit]

In theory, NCLB is a great reform proposal. Who doesn't want every child in our country to succeed academically? The problem is that it is not possible for 100% of students in our public schools to pass these state standardized tests. While I agree it is a fantastic goal to have, requiring that the pass rate be 100% by 2014 is unrealisitic. Since there are penalties for not meeting AYP, something is going to have to be done to help our students pass. The only way to meet these continuously stringent goals, in my opinion, is for the tests to be dumbed down so that more students can pass it. This is a big problem. What is the point of having standardized tests that are dumbed down? If this is what the future holds, then accountability is really just a big joke.

Another problem with the state standardized tests is that they are not assessing the types of learning that we would like our students to achieve. The tests are not testing students on their ability to problem solve, evaluate information, or synthesize information. Instead, they are mostly assessing the student's ability to recall information, comprehend information, and sometimes apply what is given. While I understand that these multiple choice tests are the easiest to give and grade (and therefore the cheapest), we are doing a disservice to our students by not only giving them tests that are asking them to regurgitate information but also by teaching to these low level tests.

Digital Divide[edit]

Before this class, I had never really thought about this topic; however, in today's society, this is a huge issue in education. Our students are digital natives who are used to using technology for most aspects of their lives. Everything is at their fingertips and they are used to using technology for everything they need. This is a huge problem since our schools and teachers are not equipped to deal with this type of student. We expect them to sit at desks for extended periods of time, listen to the teacher lecture about a topic that he or she is an "expert" on, read from textbooks, and handwrite tests and essays. While it is important for students understand that all of these are important at some point, this is not the way that these students enjoy learning. In today's society, students could (and should) be researching and writing papers collaboratively online, learning how to evaluate online sources, and using the latest technology to enhance their learning. The only way that this can happen is for educators to realize the importance of staying current with the latest technology. This is not happening in our current schools! Even our technology specialists are way behind. We need to do something soon, or we are going to get so far behind the curve that we will never catch up.

Education Reform[edit]

In the United States, with education being on the political agenda, there seems to be a new reform proposal implemented with each incoming president. While I commend their efforts for trying to fix our education system, they are doing so in the wrong way. For one, they need to allow a given reform to stay in place for more than four to eight years. How can we really know if something is effective if we don't leave it in place long enough to effectively evaluate it. Second, educators need to have a say in how our schools should be reformed. Educators are the individuals who are in the classrooms and really know what works and what doesn't work. They also would be more willing to implement something if they felt committed to it. Third, the US needs to reevaluate the importance of education and reproportion the amount of money that is allotted toward it. We cannot change our schools for the better if we do not increase funding. Just like Allen and Cosby said in their book, American Schools: The Billion Dollar Challenge, we need to treat education as a matter of national security. If we don't effectively change our schools, the next generation will not be able to successfully compete our flat world.

Moving up the Food Chain: Become comfortable with questioning our own / the system’s assumptions and traditions about the way education should work.[edit]

We need to be comfortable questioning not only the educational system but also our own assumptions about it. Our education system is old and outdated. Just because we have been doing something a certain way for 100 years does not mean that we should continue doing it that way. Whose to say that it was ever effective? Educators need to not only question their own viewpoints, but they need to challenge others to question their own as well. Most individuals (especially those not in education) do not realize how ineffective some of our traditional teaching practices are. They think that since they learned a certain way and they turned out good, that that particular way is the best way. Trying to get these individuals to understand that our way is not effective is definitely a challenge, but it can be done. To start, we need to challenge all educators to really question their own assumptions about education. From there, the rest of society's assumptions can be challenged as well.