Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Forgotten Half/Alternatives

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What are the alternatives?
When it comes to the education of our children, failure is not an option.

—President George W. Bush

“A student’s decision to drop out of school has long term consequences that can contribute to juvenile delinquency, welfare dependency, or, in the worst cases, prison” (“Dropouts,” n.d.). The U.S. Department of Education reports the following reasons for students to drop out of school: dislike of school, retention at grade level, a sense that teachers and administrators do not care about them, uncomfortable in a large, depersonalized school setting, and low academic achievement (“Dropouts,” n.d.). In order to prevent a student from dropping out of school, prevention must begin as early as preschool. If a child begins school prepared, the chance of becoming a successful student increases; however, if a child enters school unprepared, the chance that student may drop out increases. Upon recognizing an unprepared student, a teacher may utilize such alternatives as applying different learning strategies and styles to that student’s learning process, and providing additional tutoring to encourage and increase academic achievement.

School Readiness[edit]

A school-ready or prepared child possesses the following characteristics: confidence, friendliness, good peer relationships, persistence at challenging tasks, good language development, good communication, listens well, and is attentive (Report on the importance.., 2000). If a child does not develop these characteristics before entering school, behavioral, emotional, and academic problems may result and continue through that child’s life (Report on the importance.., 2000). My son, Nicholas, is an excellent example of a child that was not school ready. He was not socially or emotionally developed; therefore, the decision was made to hold him back from entering kindergarten until the next year. Nicholas is now a fourth grade honor student. The decision resulted in academic success for him. If a child is socially, emotionally, and academically ready for school, the basis for academic success will be laid.

Learning Strategies[edit]

Many students enter school unprepared without a basis for academic achievement. As a result, a teacher must intervene by utilizing appropriate learning strategies in order to increase academic achievement for the unprepared student. All students learn differently, what works for one student will not necessarily work for another. A responsible teacher will try to determine the best learning strategy and utilize it daily to increase learning for the unprepared student. Some examples of effective learning strategies are methods for improving memory for better studying or test-taking skills, changing the design of instruction, and following a study skill program.

Classic Memory Technique[edit]

A classic memory improvement technique improves the memory for better studying or test-taking skills (“Learning Strategies,” n.d.). This method requires the student to associate facts to be remembered to particular locations (“Learning Strategies,” n.d.).

Change in Design of Instruction[edit]

A good example of a change in the design of instruction is reversing the order of when questions are asked about a particular lesson. Instead of asking questions at the end of the lesson, they may be asked before as well as during the lesson (“Learning Strategies,” n.d.). By changing the design of instruction, the student is encouraged to pay closer attention to the lesson.

SQ3R Study Skill Program[edit]

The SQ3R study skill program suggests five steps to increase learning, which are as follows:

  1. Survey the material to be learned
  2. Develop questions about the material
  3. Read the material
  4. Recall the key ideas
  5. Review the material (“Learning Strategies,” n.d.)

By following these steps, a student increases his or her understanding of the material and the chances of academic achievement.

Learning Styles[edit]

Before discussing learning styles, the idea that boys and girls learn differently must be understood. Boys tend to work silently while girls use words as they learn (Gurian et al., 2001). Boys use deductive reasoning enabling them to be more successful at multiple choice tests whereas girls use inductive reasoning (Gurian et al., 2001). Girls are generally better listeners than boys, which usually results in the boys giving up on learning or creating mischief (Gurian et al., 2001). These are just a few of the differences in learning between boys and girls; however, teachers need to be mindful of these differences when working to better prepare a student for learning.

“Learning styles are simply different approaches or ways of learning” (“Learning Styles,” n.d.). The three types of learning styles are the visual learner, the auditory learner, and the tactile/kinesthetic learner.

Visual Learner[edit]

The visual learner learns best by seeing “the teacher’s body language and facial expression” (“Learning Styles,” n.d.) during a lesson. Diagrams, illustrated text books, overhead projections, videos, and handouts are helpful to the visual learner’s learning process (“Learning Styles,” n.d.).

Auditory Learner[edit]

The auditory learner learns best by listening to lectures and participating in discussions (“Learning Styles,” n.d.). Auditory learners also benefit from reading text aloud or listening to a recorder (“Learning Styles,” n.d.).

Tactile/Kinesthetic[edit]

The tactile/kinesthetic learner learns best by moving, doing, and touching (“Learning Styles,” n.d.). By taking hands on approach, the degree of learning for the tactile/kinesthetic learner increases.

Multiple Intelligences[edit]

The theory of multiple intelligences may also be considered as an alternative to achieve academic success. Wikipedia defines multiple intelligences as an educational theory developed by psychologist, Howard Gardner, which describes a variety of different types of “intelligences” that exist in human beings (“Theory of multiple intelligences,” n.d.). The different types of “intelligences” or set of abilities, talents, or mental skills are as follows:

  • Musical intelligence – important in the perception and production of music
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence – concerned with body movements
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence – enhances problem solving
  • Linguistic intelligence – deals with the development of language
  • Spatial intelligence – the ability to visualize objects from different angles
  • Interpersonal intelligence – the ability to distinguish moods, temperaments, and intentions of other individuals
  • Intrapersonal intelligence – knowledge of one’s inner being (Gardner, 2006).

“Mastery of a concept or theory requires repeated exposure to that material: one almost never achieves instant understanding” (Gardner, 2006, p. 60). In most cases, understanding is more likely to be achieved if information is presented to a student in a variety of ways (Gardner, 2006). Gardner believes the best way to do this is to “draw on all of the intelligences that are relevant to that topic in as many legitimate ways as possible” (Gardner, 2006, p. 60).

When teachers have to determine the different learning styles and intelligences of the students in their classroom, it creates an incredible amount of additional work; however, the goal of every teacher should be to increase a student’s learning and to make that learning enjoyable. When that goal is accomplished, it is rewarding for the teacher.

Tutoring[edit]

Children's minds don't close down at 3 p.m.

—Richard W. Riley, Former U.S. Secretary of Education

Tutoring is another possible alternative to increase a student’s learning and the chance for academic achievement. Students may be tutored on a one-on-one basis, or in an after-school program. “The need for successful educational initiatives such as tutoring for lower-performing students has become increasingly important due to the demands of No Child Left Behind and its emphasis on improving standardized test scores” (Baker, 2006, para. 5). According to the experts, after-school hours give students the opportunity to further engage in academic, social, and physical activities (“After-School Program,” n.d.). The afterschool program at Stuart Elementary School in Stuart, Virginia, offers homework assistance from teachers in addition to recreational activities. This routine ensures that the student’s homework gets completed with an understanding of the material; therefore, increasing the chances of academic success.

Conclusion[edit]

The alternatives discussed in this article are suggestions for teachers to utilize in helping students to succeed; however, the student has to want to succeed. The teacher can work with the student in every way possible, but the process is a two way street. The student has to put forth as much effort as the teacher. By working with the teacher, a student can attain academic achievement and become a successful graduate instead of a school dropout and a member of the forgotten half.

Helping Students to Succeed: A Twelve Step Program[edit]

  1. Identify failure early and act on it
  2. Confront the student privately with facts
  3. Get the student to verbalize his/her own problem and identify causes and solutions
  4. Listen and be direct in responses
  5. Help the student create a plan of action with realistic goals
  6. Make sure the student adopts the plan as his/her own set of goals and responsibilities
  7. Follow up on the plan daily, if possible
  8. Remind the student of his/her goals
  9. Be a resource - offer or locate additional instruction and materials at an appropriate level
  10. Vary the approach to help keep students interested and to accommodate varied learning styles
  11. Acknowledge growth even when it does not include passing a test or class
  12. Keep a professional outlook - if you have followed this plan then you have done your best - the student is responsible for his successes and failures
- Marty Dawley, Spring International Language Center

Multiple Choice Questions[edit]

Click to reveal the answer.

There are several differences in learning between boys and girls mentioned in the article. Which of the following is not one of them?
A. Boys work silently while girls use words as they learn.
B. Boys use deductive reasoning and girls use inductive reasoning.
C. Girls are generally better listeners than boys.
D. Girls have better handwriting than boys.

D. Girls have better handwriting than boys.

Which of the following learning strategies involves the association of a visualized place to a fact to be remembered?
A. SQ3R study skill program
B. Deductive reasoning
C. Classic memory technique
D. Change in the design of instruction

C. Classic memory technique

How does an after-school program promote academic achievement?
A. By providing healthy snacks.
B. By providing school supplies.
C. By providing homework assistance from teachers.
D. By providing recreational activities.

C. By providing homework assistance from teachers.

A school-ready child must possess certain characteristics. Which of the following is not one of them?
A. Confidence
B. Friendliness
C. Attentive
D. Emotionally delayed

D. Emotionally delayed

The visual learner learns best by seeing, the auditory learner learns best by hearing – how does the tactile/kinesthetic learner learn best?
A. Sitting
B. Listening
C. Watching
D. Moving

D. Moving

Essay Question[edit]

Click to reveal sample responses.

Explain the different learning strategies mentioned in this article.

There are three learning strategies mentioned in this article, which are the classic memory technique, changing the design of instruction, and following the study skill program, SQ3R. The classic memory technique is a method for improving memory for better studying or test-taking skills by associating facts to places through visualization. If a student is able to visualize a place then a particular fact should come into memory. The second strategy mentioned is changing the design of instruction. For instance, instead of routinely asking questions at the end of a lesson, a teacher may decide to ask them during or after the lesson. If the teacher changes the routine daily, the students would have to pay closer attention to the lesson to be able to answer the questions correctly because they would not know when the questions would be asked. The third strategy is following the study skill program, SQ3R. There are five steps to this program, which helps the student to completely review the material by reading, developing questions, and recalling the key ideas. Once these steps are completed, the student should have a good understanding of the material. If a teacher works with the student to find a strategy that works, the chance for academic success increases.


The three learning strategies discussed in this article are the Classic Memory Technique, the Change in Design of Instruction Technique, and the SQR3 Study Skill Program Technique. Each of these strategies offers different tools for teachers to use within the classroom and assist students in optimizing their differing learning styles.

The Classic Memory Technique encourages teachers to find ways for the student to visualize a location that pertains to the information within the lesson in order to better remember what is being studied. If a child can visualize Rome then that child will be able to better remember Roman history as well as be able to better relate to the people of Roman times. Once a student can relate to history as more than names and dates, then that student will be more able to retain the information.

The second learning strategy is the Change in Design of Instruction Technique. This technique divides the teaching approach into steps the teacher can follow. The teacher will begin the lesson with a survey of the material. After a short summary is given then questions about the material are developed. This can be by the teacher and the student as well. If the student begins the lesson with certain questions, then the student is more likely to pay attention because the student has become interested. Third the teacher and the student will read the material. This allows for more detail to become available on the subject. Next is to recall the key ideas within the reading. This allows for the student to connect the differing ideas into a main subject. Lastly the teacher and the student will review the material. “What do we remember and what do we still have questions about.” The review session will be a place where students can begin to answer questions of one another and find out if they have more questions as a result of the material.

Using these three techniques can be done separately or as one. If a teacher is to combine these techniques more students are likely to learn and retain the information. Differing learning styles are taken into account and as a result more students with differing learning styles will be able to understand and learn together during the same lesson. This may take more time, but it will save the student and the teacher from having to review the material one on one. If a student can do well in class along with their peers, their self esteem will likely to be better for it as well.


There were three learning strategies mentioned in this article. The first learning strategy was the classic memory technique. This technique promotes memorization in an effort to create a student who is studious and a good test taker. The second learning strategy is change in design of instruction. This learning strategy suggests that the way a student is asked questions should be reversed, which hopefully will contribute to the student paying closer attention to the lesson. The last learning strategy discussed was the SQ3R study skill program. This learning strategy is presented in a series of five steps which will increase learning. If the five steps are followed a students understanding will increase and that will further the students chances of academic achievement. All three suggested learning strategies are excellent tactics to include in the daily lessons for academic success. However, I do not believe that these three learning strategies will help resolve the issue of high school dropouts. The strategies cater more to differentiating instruction rather than reducing the drop out rates. As an educator I believe that one of the main reasons for high school drop outs is the economic disadvantage some students have to suffice. Furthermore many students are a product of their environment. —Lakeishia Hardy


In response to your article The Forgotten Half-Those who do not succeed-What are the alternatives in recent decades the assumption that most students should attend college has spread in America. For many students, of course, the best education does mean college level-academics. For others, however, the most meaningful, fulfilling and enabling education, upon leaving high school, is less academic than practical and technical. This issue has to be addressed as early as pre-school so this trend of the forgotten half will come to a stop.

Why school readiness is important is due to many substantial reasons. The first is because from birth to five years old these are the most critical to a young child's development. Young children's earliest experiences and environments set the stage for future development and success in school and life. Schools can improve the readiness of young children by making connections with local child care providers and preschools and by creating policies that ensured smooth transitions to kindergarten. Studies show that at least 1/2 of the educational achievements gaps will happen between the poor and the non-poor already exist at kindergarten entrance. Researchers have found out that children who aren't performing proficiently in reading by the third grade are at a very high risk for poor long-term outcomes, such as dropping out school, teen pregnancy, and juvenile crime.

I commend you for being able to make to decision on your child's readiness on the basis you how your child had developed or not developed and whether or not he was ready to go to school. I know that was a very difficult decision to make due to the fact you want to keep your child with children his age but, society has put pressure on parents to send their children on when they know that are not ready and use the extra year to develop more maturely. No one else knows their child no better than the parent so, rest assured in the long run he will thank you and you will realize that it was the best decision that you will have made. Parent's won't realize that it is the child who has to suffer when they are not ready to go because development for that child did not happen yet.

I must agree with again on the teacher knowing how to apply the appropriate teaching strategy for the struggling student especially. The auditory learner best learn by listening to add to the subject the student will excel if they are this type of learner by the teacher using interviewing, debating, participating in oral discussions of written material. Now, the visual learner will learn by working with computer graphics, maps, graphs, charts, cartoons, and posters. The tactile learner will best learn by using manipulatives for example, working with making models, drawing, and playing board games.

Teachers should be aware that they will have to take in account of the student's learning style and give them a good foundation as early as preschool/kindergarten. We don't want any of the students to end up in the forgotten half category. These are the students who end up dropping out, on drugs, pregnant, or in prison. —Dionne Tucker


The three learning strategies mentioned in the article are classic memory technique, change in design instruction and SQ3R study skill program. The classic memory technique is a method designed to improve memory to enhance a students studying and test taking skills. The second technique is change in design instruction. The second technique was setup to encourage the student to pay closer attention to lessons and actively participate in lessons. The third technique is SQ3R study skill program, in this technique it is suggested that there are five steps to increasing learning. I believe that each of these three learning strategies has merit, but I think by combining all three your giving students more of an advantage. Your providing them with different ways to learn, there by not limiting them to just one way of thinking. You give them a chance to develop learning skills that work best for them and will help them in their later education. —Kristin Lambert

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