In response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech last Tuesday, Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post has echoed the theme of this education reform blog — if family is so important to education, then why are all the reforms targeted at charter schools and teachers?
Though the provocative stories in Amy Chua’s new best-selling book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother have incensed many American parents and educators, the spirit of her memoir should not. In recounting how she raised her two daughters in an exaggerated and authoritarian manner, Chua assertively denounced the laissez-faire approach characterized by western parents.
A controversial new study has suggested that the best way to learn in school is to take tests. Compared with repeatedly studying materials and concept mapping (drawing detailed diagrams of what one has learned), testing students seemed to have had the most positive impact on learning and remembering. There has always been a constant battle between the best ways to learn, usually pitting advocates of reasoning versus memorization. In education, we have seen a steady progression towards the latter. But how about it life? Which works more?
In a culture of education, the school, family, community, and government need to work cooperatively — one aspect working without the other three can only improve learning and education by so much. Currently, policymakers have been consumed with piecemeal efforts like teacher accountability, putting millions of dollars into research and systems that determine the teachers’ effectiveness on student achievement. No doubt the teaching profession need continual improvements, but not at the expense of developing students and family. The government will need to be a big part of that, but not in the way they have been currently operating.
There is strong consensus that poverty is at the root of America’s education problem — not teachers or public schools. Poverty in turn, affects a child’s learning and achievement, and subsequent opportunities in life. There needs to be a combination of solutions: one more broad-based, and one more education-focused.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote an article in today’s Washington Post, School Reform: A Chance for Bipartisan Governing, emphasizing the important role both Democrats and Republicans have in rewriting NCLB to address its “one-size-fits-all mandates, its teach-to-the-test mentality, and its lack of teacher investment. Can those bold steps for schools really overcome poverty?
We know new years resolutions never work. It just relies too much on willpower, which sad to say we have little of…Willpower alone, it seems, is not enough. What do most people do? They settle for passive decision-making, which essentially means they do nothing. If people can’t seem to turn beliefs into action, then what works?