Suggestions to resolve concerns about the United States students’ low scores in international tests seem to abound: more books, bigger books, longer school hours, more teachers, ad infinitum. I suggest that everyone take a deep breath, relax, and reflect on what can be fixed quickly.
Long-range goals can be simple; when any level of government decides to be in charge, they are not. Government officials like to spend, and how better to spend than to do more tests, appoint more committees, and make suggestions regarding more schools, more teachers, and more hours. All the while, of course, they will pontificate their contribution to making our students smarter. Let’s discuss this matter another time, because I know that the entire world has comments about it.
For those who want a deeper insight in the meantime, please see Public Education News – U.S. Students Still Behind; Oprah Exposes Poor Public Ed; Maryland Approves Environmental Curriculum.
Who should be involved?
Today, I’m challenging any person, animal, or object with conscious thought to teach others. Adults, children, animals, computers; each has a gift of knowledge, learning, and curiosity. Share one with another and see what can be accomplished. By adding the M to education, “meducation” is created; a treatment to heal the problems.
What areas of student learning need improvement?
Someone out there just said, “What doesn’t?” That certainly was a volatile answer. Let’s consider, then, what is most important to work on now: mathematics, language arts, social skills, communication skills, and science/technology. An understanding and fluid use of the previous list is a great asset when looking for a job.
Where to help learning
Volunteer to read to children at a local school or library. Consider forming a neighborhood after-school program that includes discussions focused around learning. Contact the local school, outline your knowledge or interests, and see if you can be a guest speaker (remember that children are sometimes rude, but that we’re also working on this. A tip? Keep it short).
When this should be done
Many people already focus on teaching and sharing knowledge. It is important to focus our energy on doing more, right now and for the rest of our lives. Our future as a contributing community, family, and nation depend on it.
How can this be fixed quickly?
“A little knowledge goes a long way.” “Plant a seed, nurture it, and it will grow.” I cannot find who said either of these truisms. Yahoo!Search provides many articles using the general idea, so they must likely have been around for centuries. Let your voice be heard.
Very basic arithmetic skills can be taught anywhere, anytime. Instead of commenting on the four well-behaved children, phrase it as “One boy, three girls: you have four wonderful children.” You have reinforced units and simple addition. Addition and subtraction should be reflexive bits of knowledge in each child’s incredible brain-cell storage chamber.
Science is awesome. Observe things around you and point them out. If you see an unusual wasp, plant, or bug, seek and share the information with others. Give them the thirst to learn and share.
Social and communication skills are a challenge in today’s ” type it, don’t say it” world. Stepping on some toes, I’m going to suggest manners and respect be restored to the community. Common courtesy can provide an open approach to learning because those around will actually be focused on what others are saying, rather than the latest text message. Embrace art and music, and drop crumbs of enlightenment. The “Yard Sale” signs on corners that people stop to read can handle one more sign reminding people about an art show or concert soon to be in the area.
Technology is changing faster than we think. Encourage questions about why it is changing. If you think a new update is a bad idea, find out why it was done. If you think it is a good idea, find out why it took so long to happen. Your own quest will inspire others.
Reading is the framework. Read to others. Read to yourself. Point out signs to encourage others to read. Make flashcards of basic words and review them with the kids. If you show a card with “Aunt” and “Ant”, and they understand the difference, hurrah. Let them know how proud you are, and be proud of your contributions.
Remember to keep learning. Never be afraid to add refreshment to your knowledge platter. If you need an example of how things change, look at a map of Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America. Names of nations change continually. The way we learn things like that is to stabilize our educational values and tools. Really thank a teacher. It is a stressful job.
Most importantly, take a giant step, and add an “M” to the “E” in education.
The above is an original work of the author, based on education and experience. Thanks, Mom!
Several articles have been mentioned to show the ease with which learning can be instilled, and the importance of correcting our educational base now.
Sheryl Young, Public Education News – U.S. Students Still Behind; Oprah Exposes Poor Public Ed; Maryland Approves Environmental Curriculum
Tracy Vanderford, The Blue-Winged Wasp
Vincent Summers, What kind of plant or weed is this
Zona Zirconia, Strange Bug on WalMart Parking Lot