Thursday, November 1, 2012

Teachers Are Not The Problem


My last post referred to a book by Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.  This essay summarizes his work and traces some important trends in private/charter choice.  We have lost sight of one of the central issues in improving the lives our youth.  Yes, education is as basic as it gets, but we must be addressing poverty and the economic issues at work in our cities or our efforts will come to nothing.  What we need is a coordinated, community-wide effort where all the agencies sit at the same table and recognize that they all have similar goals.  Consider this:

“But we could design an entirely different system for children who are dealing with deep and pervasive adversity at home. It might start at a comprehensive pediatric wellness center, like the one that the pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris is now working to construct in Bayview−Hunters Point, with trauma-focused care and social-service support woven into every medical visit. It might continue with parenting interventions that increase the chance of secure attachment, like Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up, or ABC, a program developed at the University of Delaware. In prekindergarten, it might involve a program like Tools of the Mind that promotes executive-function skills and self-regulation in young children. We’d want to make sure these students were in good schools, of course, not ones that track them into remedial classes but ones that challenge them to do high-level work. And whatever academic help they were getting in the classroom would need to be supplemented by social and psychological and character-building interventions outside the classroom, like the ones that principal Elizabeth Dozier has brought to Fenger High School in Chicago or the ones that a group called Turnaround for Children provides in several low-income schools in New York City and Washington, D.C. In high school, these students would benefit from some combination of what college-persistence programs like OneGoal and KIPP Through College provide — a program that directs them toward higher education and tries to prepare them for college not only academically but also emotionally and psychologically.

A coordinated system like that, targeted at the 10 to 15 percent of students at the highest risk of failure, would be expensive, there’s no doubt. But it would almost certainly be cheaper than the ad hoc system we have in place now. It would save not only lives but money, and not just in the long run, but right away.”

Read the article for more explanation – well worth your time.

1 comment:

Nina Smith said...

Hi Mark,

Nice post about an important issue! Education should be seen as an entity, because we cannot expect great results as long as children are not cared about. As a Finn I also have hard time understanding why education has been shrunk into excessive measuring and assessing of students. We already know hungry and distracted kids cannot concentrate on their learning, so solving these problems before starting measurements should be just common sense.
Nina