Schools Need to Stop Staying the Same (by Guest Blogger Steven Gandee)

steve postTeachers like to teach the same to every student, and expect every student to understand what they are teaching.  They tend to move quickly, never really stopping to see if everyone gets it.  We need to start addressing this issue, I think the way that teachers teach is by making sure the majority gets what’s going on and the rest will fall by the way side.  Lydia Dobyns brings up a good point in a recent article saying “Those of us who offer innovative ways to educate believe we need to replace a factory method of teaching with a student-centered learning environment in which the roles of the teacher, student and administrator function differently at every level.”


What do you think?  Should we keep teaching the same way from K-12?  Or should every level of school be taught differently?



13 thoughts on “Schools Need to Stop Staying the Same (by Guest Blogger Steven Gandee)

  1. Ideally, every CHILD should be taught differently regardless of age or grade. Thinking back to the romanticized roots of public education, the one room school house, where a group of students smaller than our average kindergarten class would encompass K-12. Each child would be taught according to their individual level and ability, not grouped, classified, labelled and forced to conform for the sake of efficiency and serving the greatest good (i.e. the median). Given our current classroom ratios, resources available to schools and teachers (limited to a large degree by a combination of short-sightedness, greed, gullibility and/or apathy on the part of voters), current educational trends and pressure to meet minimum standards, this sort of personalized education is simply not within reach. That doesn’t mean that it should be forgotten and discarded. Even “pie in the sky” goals serve a purpose and in constantly striving to achieve them, we cannot help but get at least a little closer.

  2. I believe Dobyns’ comment is right on. Teachers focus too much on what that state expects to be taught rather than on what each student can understand. However, this isn’t necessarily the teacher’s fault. The No Child Left Behind Act makes it so the teachers have the pressure to get every student up to parr for the reading, writing, and math state tests. Teachers are also given expectations to meet, so they don’t have much room to fall behind, which means they can’t wait up for the students who are struggling. So, to answer your question, we need to teacher students at a level they will understand and at a rate where they can learn. I think the achievement compacts that Oregon is talking about would really help this out. We should focus on seeing students’ improvements instead of basing it off a standardized test. If students were tested at the end of each year on their improvement, and then placed in a class with students around their same level with a teacher willing to work slower and help the students out, their education will be more successful and more worth while for everyone.

  3. One of the big problems I see is that there is simply not enough time for teachers to spend on a certain subject before moving on to the next. Teaching subjects like math and writing can take a lot of time for certain students, and when the class moves so fast, it’s easy for students to get frustrated and give up. One of the solutions I see to the problem is making teacher assistants available in the classrooms, and offering more tutoring to those who are still struggling. Though I would like to see the system change, I think these are more realistic solutions until (if) the schools get a major increase in their budget.

  4. According to world renowned authority in education equity, social justice and transformation of schools, Linda Darling-Hammond, “The top 10 in-demand jobs predicted for 2010 did not exist in 2004.” What does this mean for the public education system of the United States? It means the U.S. has got to take a more innovative and dynamic approach if it is to give its students the skills necessary for success in the future. As Lydia puts it, the “factory model” of today, or rather yester-year is, simply, outdated. The standardized testing and other components of the NCLB initiative primarily teach children how to regurgitate information on exams, not how to be self-thinking or even apply the information to the ever-changing real world, for that matter. I agree with Lydia as she emphasizes the importance of creating a system where both the cognitive and noncognitive skills of students are attended to. In congruence again with Darling-Hammond, Dobyns makes her point clear as she concludes with a comparison between top technology mongol and innovator, Google, to the education model of the United States:

    “They (Google) know(s) they won’t survive as leaders in their field unless they
    continue to demonstrate highly adaptive organizational practices…Ultimately, it is about delivering core education in today’s world by today’s standards of success.”

    So to answer your question, do I think every level of school should be taught differently than how it is now?


  5. I absolutely agree that every level of school should be taught differently. First, teachers should be getting a fair salary where they will be motivated and take the time to teach each child depending on their academic needs. Secondly, I feel the district needs to support teachers by breaking down classrooms into smaller groups, and thirdly, identify target students who need additional support by providing tutoring and after-school programs to support academic classes.

    • Genie, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said teachers should have a salary that keeps them motivated, and the district should make smaller class sizes. These are 2 of the biggest issues in todays public education system. Teachers today get paid so little and even with their small salary, they have to pay out of pocket for their class supplies for their 30-35 students. This would make any teacher stressed and discouraged, they want to help teach each student but they need more support from the public in order to do it. It is like saying one policer offer has to patrol an entire city by themselves. This would tire them out, wear them out, and make them believe it is an impossible task. We need to show the educators of the country that we support them and are willing to help them no matter what. they should not be educating our future on their own!

  6. On the one hand, we must consider the broad bandwidth of learning styles and do our level best to appeal to as many of those styles as possible. Of course, age is a factor in a student’s learning style, because as they develop and mature, lessons must appeal to different parts of the brain in order to be most effectively absorbed.

    However, consistency is also a big consideration. If you significantly alter the structure of the curriculum and the style of teaching with each grade level, the change may be too jarring for the students. It could disrupt the learning process of some kids, causing them to put a lot more energy into adapting to a new system rather than focusing on the curriculum itself. Granted, the change might only be stimulating for some students, working to enhance their absorption of information rather than disrupting it. But this is the conundrum we face: where is the balance between nurturing the diversity and individualities that exist in a school environment, and maintaining and equitable and sustainable structure for learning?

  7. A certain level of consistency is required, though teaching should be more individualized. Unfortunately, before that can happen, teachers that are motivated and dedicated, and even more importantly, well trained need to be present.

    As our text states, repeatedly, teachers aren’t prepared to teach when they are reaching the classroom. This irregularity isn’t good for children. Especially when kids lack stability at home, school may be the only place they can find it. So when it is lacking at home and in the classroom, kids don’t feel safe. Isn’t that what we were always told…? At least I was, school is somewhere you should feel safe.

    Maybe we’ve lost that mentality though…

  8. I think that educators teaching the same K-12 formula are losing ground in terms of educating their students because it lacks innovation and a student-centered environment. Its focus on traditional practices can be unfair to the current and recent generation of students who have not grown up with these age old practices. As mentioned in the article, successful business practices are continuously adapting their practices to societal changes, such as Google, for example, that has made enormous technological and innovative strides to become the successful business that it is today. Our School systems will need to adapt to these societal changes by implementing an interactive, student-centered learning environment; a model that incorporates more technology in our schools, since the current and recent generational trends of students are utilizing more technology in their everyday lives. I think we’ve all had traditional instructors, at one point, who teach straight from the text and, to some degree, are technophobic, which can be difficult to maintain focus in environment that lacks innovation. Overall, I do see that every school will need to be taught differently based on societal context.

  9. I think it’s really difficult for students who have different learning styles, especially when teachers move so fast. I don’t know if this is necessarily a teachers issue or overall the whole school districts issue because they expect teachers to get through so many things in one year, and expect that every student will follow. Something really important with this, is getting more parents and people volunteering in classrooms. With class sizes beginning to get so large, it’s going to become even harder for students to follow and having any one on one time with a teacher will become hopeless. Getting parents and volunteers involved can get more one on one student/adult time and give the students more of an opportunity to really understand the material.

  10. I believe there should be a different way of teaching students instead of using this standardize method. Because of No Child Left Behind it seems teachers are afraid to go off course/schedule and slow down for students to catch up. I know personally for me I feel like I was passed up by teachers because I was an average student and didn’t need as much help as other students did I wasn’t a focus but that has affected me in college. I always felt I could slide by and not have to worry because I always passed. But every student is on different levels and some struggle with more and different things so figuring out a different method to hit all of these concerns is important I believe. We need to adapt to the needs of the students and not the needs of the tests because students are missing out on so much.

  11. I think students should be taught differently in each grade. Starting in Kindergarten, they need lots of one-on-one attention, they need the teacher to repeat things several times, and the instructor should make sure EVERY student is understanding to concept. If we start our students off like this, that is setting up a solid foundation, with (hopefully) no academic gaps. As the student progresses through school, they would be able to go off this solid foundation, and the teachers might not have to worry if every student is understanding because every student would have the same knowledge. Obviously this is an ideal situation, and I do agree that every Student learns differently.

  12. This post made me think to a class I’m taking this term on youth and youth work; the style of teaching dubbed “banking” comes to mind. This is defined as students being an empty machine, and they are given information to withhold until they need to regurgitate it at a specific time, or test taking, and will it will not remain with them. While I feel this is an extreme term, I also feel that unfortunately, many students and teachers are using this style without knowing it. Creating a system where both cognitive and non cognitive skills are used in both students and teachers to help advance a student where they as individuals can gain the most and use the resources they have been given. Governor Kitzhabers new achievement compact looks critically at this system, the one that has been furthered by the NCLB act. The compacts will focus on students and classes as independent of the traditional education system, and will address where their strengths, weaknesses, and room for improvement lay. Targeting children who need help in specific areas is something these compacts could contribute to, rather than discourage them and make them feel they do not have strengths. Additionally, we need to support our teachers in PPS as they are the instructors of our future generation. This support needs to be financial of course, but just as important is psychological. They need to know their importance, and the new achievement compact would benefit teachers who, though may not have high wages, have hit their achievement goals and are being publicly recognized, as this could potentially increase salaries.

    Whitney Kilkenny

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