Friday, September 26, 2014

Drop outs cost taxpayers a lot of money

Drop outs cost communities untold and unnecessary suffering.  Drop outs are a problem.

Somebody should do something.

Imagine an "at risk" student standing between two otherwise identical high schools.  S/he wants to go to one of the schools and does not want to go the other.  Further imagine you have the authority to decide which school the student will be allowed to attend.

Imagine you have the authority to decide which classroom s/he will attend.  Imagine you have the authority decide which subject the student will study next and for how long.

In every case would you not allow the student to follow their own path?

Our only obligation is to get them to the end of school; then able to fully engage in whatever it is they decide to do next.  It doesn't matter how they get there.

The immediate obstacle to individual paths to education is standardized testing.  Standardized testing is the mechanism by which the efficacy of public schools is measured, in the effort to standardize individual performance.  Even if we could, why do we want to?

For as long as there is standardized testing, there will be standardized education.  One cannot standardize and individualize at once.  A choice has to be made.

The mission, primary goal and first objective of public school education is or should be;

to create independent lifelong learners at the earliest opportunity.
The overwhelming majority of children who are offered the opportunity to become independent lifelong learners, will not turn their back on that opportunity.

Educating children, especially immature children, has been compared to herding kittens.  It is an apt comparison.  And useful to note that kittens don't drop out; they never stop exploring.  Neither will children, if we enable them.

... if we allow them.

Cemetery seating; six rows of five desks.  Each occupied by students with nothing in common really, except their age and the neighborhood they live in.  Each has a book open to the same page on the same day, each preparing for tests they will all take all at once.

Even if we could create learning choirs; why do we want to?
If teaching children in groups was ever the best way to enable
students to educate themselves, it is not now.
It will never be again.  It is forever obsolete.

How do you encourage children to strive toward their potential,
when every time their "group" crosses the start/finish line,
they have stop; regroup themselves; hold the faster ones back
and then run in place until the slowest ones catch up?

It doesn't make sense.

submitted to Journal Letters to the Editors 

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