Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Forgotten Half/Alternatives
|“||When it comes to the education of our children, failure is not an option.||”|
—President George W. Bush
“A student’s decision to drop out of school has long term consequences that can contribute to juvenile delinquency, welfare dependency, or, in the worst cases, prison” (“Dropouts,” n.d.). The U.S. Department of Education reports the following reasons for students to drop out of school: dislike of school, retention at grade level, a sense that teachers and administrators do not care about them, uncomfortable in a large, depersonalized school setting, and low academic achievement (“Dropouts,” n.d.). In order to prevent a student from dropping out of school, prevention must begin as early as preschool. If a child begins school prepared, the chance of becoming a successful student increases; however, if a child enters school unprepared, the chance that student may drop out increases. Upon recognizing an unprepared student, a teacher may utilize such alternatives as applying different learning strategies and styles to that student’s learning process, and providing additional tutoring to encourage and increase academic achievement.
A school-ready or prepared child possesses the following characteristics: confidence, friendliness, good peer relationships, persistence at challenging tasks, good language development, good communication, listens well, and is attentive (Report on the importance.., 2000). If a child does not develop these characteristics before entering school, behavioral, emotional, and academic problems may result and continue through that child’s life (Report on the importance.., 2000). My son, Nicholas, is an excellent example of a child that was not school ready. He was not socially or emotionally developed; therefore, the decision was made to hold him back from entering kindergarten until the next year. Nicholas is now a fourth grade honor student. The decision resulted in academic success for him. If a child is socially, emotionally, and academically ready for school, the basis for academic success will be laid.
Many students enter school unprepared without a basis for academic achievement. As a result, a teacher must intervene by utilizing appropriate learning strategies in order to increase academic achievement for the unprepared student. All students learn differently, what works for one student will not necessarily work for another. A responsible teacher will try to determine the best learning strategy and utilize it daily to increase learning for the unprepared student. Some examples of effective learning strategies are methods for improving memory for better studying or test-taking skills, changing the design of instruction, and following a study skill program.
Classic Memory Technique
A classic memory improvement technique improves the memory for better studying or test-taking skills (“Learning Strategies,” n.d.). This method requires the student to associate facts to be remembered to particular locations (“Learning Strategies,” n.d.).
Change in Design of Instruction
A good example of a change in the design of instruction is reversing the order of when questions are asked about a particular lesson. Instead of asking questions at the end of the lesson, they may be asked before as well as during the lesson (“Learning Strategies,” n.d.). By changing the design of instruction, the student is encouraged to pay closer attention to the lesson.
SQ3R Study Skill Program
The SQ3R study skill program suggests five steps to increase learning, which are as follows:
- Survey the material to be learned
- Develop questions about the material
- Read the material
- Recall the key ideas
- Review the material (“Learning Strategies,” n.d.)
By following these steps, a student increases his or her understanding of the material and the chances of academic achievement.
Before discussing learning styles, the idea that boys and girls learn differently must be understood. Boys tend to work silently while girls use words as they learn (Gurian et al., 2001). Boys use deductive reasoning enabling them to be more successful at multiple choice tests whereas girls use inductive reasoning (Gurian et al., 2001). Girls are generally better listeners than boys, which usually results in the boys giving up on learning or creating mischief (Gurian et al., 2001). These are just a few of the differences in learning between boys and girls; however, teachers need to be mindful of these differences when working to better prepare a student for learning.
“Learning styles are simply different approaches or ways of learning” (“Learning Styles,” n.d.). The three types of learning styles are the visual learner, the auditory learner, and the tactile/kinesthetic learner.
The visual learner learns best by seeing “the teacher’s body language and facial expression” (“Learning Styles,” n.d.) during a lesson. Diagrams, illustrated text books, overhead projections, videos, and handouts are helpful to the visual learner’s learning process (“Learning Styles,” n.d.).
The auditory learner learns best by listening to lectures and participating in discussions (“Learning Styles,” n.d.). Auditory learners also benefit from reading text aloud or listening to a recorder (“Learning Styles,” n.d.).
The tactile/kinesthetic learner learns best by moving, doing, and touching (“Learning Styles,” n.d.). By taking hands on approach, the degree of learning for the tactile/kinesthetic learner increases.
The theory of multiple intelligences may also be considered as an alternative to achieve academic success. Wikipedia defines multiple intelligences as an educational theory developed by psychologist, Howard Gardner, which describes a variety of different types of “intelligences” that exist in human beings (“Theory of multiple intelligences,” n.d.). The different types of “intelligences” or set of abilities, talents, or mental skills are as follows:
- Musical intelligence – important in the perception and production of music
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence – concerned with body movements
- Logical-mathematical intelligence – enhances problem solving
- Linguistic intelligence – deals with the development of language
- Spatial intelligence – the ability to visualize objects from different angles
- Interpersonal intelligence – the ability to distinguish moods, temperaments, and intentions of other individuals
- Intrapersonal intelligence – knowledge of one’s inner being (Gardner, 2006).
“Mastery of a concept or theory requires repeated exposure to that material: one almost never achieves instant understanding” (Gardner, 2006, p. 60). In most cases, understanding is more likely to be achieved if information is presented to a student in a variety of ways (Gardner, 2006). Gardner believes the best way to do this is to “draw on all of the intelligences that are relevant to that topic in as many legitimate ways as possible” (Gardner, 2006, p. 60).
When teachers have to determine the different learning styles and intelligences of the students in their classroom, it creates an incredible amount of additional work; however, the goal of every teacher should be to increase a student’s learning and to make that learning enjoyable. When that goal is accomplished, it is rewarding for the teacher.
|“||Children's minds don't close down at 3 p.m.||”|
—Richard W. Riley, Former U.S. Secretary of Education
Tutoring is another possible alternative to increase a student’s learning and the chance for academic achievement. Students may be tutored on a one-on-one basis, or in an after-school program. “The need for successful educational initiatives such as tutoring for lower-performing students has become increasingly important due to the demands of No Child Left Behind and its emphasis on improving standardized test scores” (Baker, 2006, para. 5). According to the experts, after-school hours give students the opportunity to further engage in academic, social, and physical activities (“After-School Program,” n.d.). The afterschool program at Stuart Elementary School in Stuart, Virginia, offers homework assistance from teachers in addition to recreational activities. This routine ensures that the student’s homework gets completed with an understanding of the material; therefore, increasing the chances of academic success.
The alternatives discussed in this article are suggestions for teachers to utilize in helping students to succeed; however, the student has to want to succeed. The teacher can work with the student in every way possible, but the process is a two way street. The student has to put forth as much effort as the teacher. By working with the teacher, a student can attain academic achievement and become a successful graduate instead of a school dropout and a member of the forgotten half.
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Helping Students to Succeed: A Twelve Step Program
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- Baker, J.D. (2006, January). An Investigation of an After School Math Tutoring Program: University Tutors + Elementary Students = A Successful Partnership. Education. Retrieved September 12, 2007, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3673/is_200601/ai_n17176203/print
- Gardner, G. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York: Basic Books.
- EPE Research Center. (n.d.). After-School Programs. Retrieved September 12, 2007, from edweek.org: http://www.edweek.org/rc/issues/after-school-programs
- EPE Research Center. (n.d.). Dropouts. Retrieved September 12, 2007, from edweek.org: http://www.edweek.org/rc/issues/dropouts
- Gurian, M., Henley, P., & Trueman, T. (2001). Boys and girls learn differently. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Dawley, M. (1999, April). What to Do With Failing Students. The Internet TESL Journal, V(4). Retrieved September 11, 2007, from http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Dawley-FailingStudents.html
- Learning strategies. (n.d.) Retrieved September 10, 2007, from http://tip.psychology.org/strategy.html
- Learning styles. (n.d.) Retrieved September 10, 2007, from http://www.ldpride.net/learningstyles.MI.htm
- Report on the Importance of Children's Social and Emotional Readiness for School Released. (2000, September). Retrieved September 11, 2007, from SIRS Government Reporter via SIRS Knowledge Source http://www.sirs.com
- Theory of multiple intelligences. (n.d.) Retrieved September 4, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences