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Teaching Has Changed, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1094

Essay

The Time Honored Instructional Methods Are Gone

Keliher (2002) believes that the problem with education in the United States is that educators have forgotten the time honored teaching method of writing on a chalkboard while lecturing to a group of willing students. He suggests that the newer instructional methodologies should be replaced by the older, time honored methods. I’m fortunate to have multiple educators in my immediate family and I have spoken with each of them. They agree that the problems in education stem from societal issues. Keliher’s time honored teaching methods probably won’t be effective when we examine how our society has changed over the last few generations.

Problems In Public Education

Public schools serve the middle class. In addition, public schools also serve the inner-city, many of whose residents are at the poverty level. Public schools generally do not serve the very wealthy; children from this group are often enrolled in private schooling at tuition rates that are prohibitive to most of us.

Who really controls the public schools? We might guess and say the Board of Education, or the school based leaders, or teachers. None of these answers is correct! The public schools are controlled by politicians (United States Department of Education, 2005). It is these individuals who get elected by making promises to keep citizens’ taxes low. And to accomplish this, schools generally suffer (Gamson, 2004). According to Dale (2009), schools get the oldest furniture, the poorest lighting, insufficient heat and air conditioning, old and outdated textbooks, overcrowded classrooms, and teachers who are college educated, yet, when they consider their income based on hours worked, they would make greater wages selling hamburgers from a McDonald’s counter.

In 2001, it was President Bush who created the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Politicians, not school faculty, decided that state standards needed to be created and that all schools in any given state should be expected to teach according to those standards. Classrooms are overcrowded; the best disciplinary methods available still make it difficult to bring too many students to order so that teaching can begin. NCLB required that teachers be grounded in specific subject areas (Center on Education Policy, June 2007). When a teacher shortage occurs, school leaders can no longer ask a social studies teacher to cover a math class. Under NCLB, school leaders encourage teachers to return to school on their own time (evenings and weekends) to earn advanced degrees. Earning a Master’s Degree can cost the teacher as much as $20,000.00. Her/his income will increase by about $1,000.00/year. It will take 20 years of teaching just to recoup the cost of the advanced degree.

The New Nanny

A couple of generations ago there were few opportunities for women in the business world. Jobs that were available included teaching and nursing, being a secretary, or waiting tables.  Possibilities of having a female manage a corporation were non-existent. Because of limited opportunities for success in the business community, more women chose to stay home—to manage their homes and to supervise their children (Midgley, 2001). Coming home from school, children knew they would be expected to do their homework followed by household chores.

Life is these United States has changed. It is difficult at best to sustain a middle class life on a single income. Women now have greater opportunities to receive higher education and to move up their career ladder (Midgley, 2001). In a few households the new nanny has become the television (Gentile & Walsh, 2003); in a greater number of households the new nanny has become unsupervised use of the computer. Children spend many hours each day in front of these technological gadgets. As a result they have learned to receive information in half-hour segments and in the form of digitalization. Children can still learn, but they learn more from non-human communication (Dudeney, 2007). Keliher’s notion of children being the receptors of information because of a teacher standing in front of a chalkboard is passé at best.

A few decades ago, society could be divided into two groups: adults and children. Adults were perceived as being wiser, more experienced human beings who set examples for children. Most adults expected children’s respect. It didn’t matter if we were talking about our parents, the senior citizen down the block—or our teachers. Most children recognized that adults held a special position in their community. When an adult said, “Jump!” most kids responded with, “How high?”

Over the course of time, social scientists persuaded adults that children are just small people with the same feelings as adults. Perhaps the failure of these social scientists was that, although they were able to change adult attitudes, they couldn’t affect the way kids think (Buer, 2007). Now, when parents tell their children they need a good education, often these kids simply respond, “No!” or at very best, “We’ll think about it!” When teachers try to effectuate strong discipline in order to bring their classes to order so learning can take place, these same youngsters are often reluctant to follow their teacher’s suggestions. Teachers are told by their supervisors that if parents are called to school, if these parents yell at or in some way attempt to physically discipline their children, they are to be notified that the police will be called.

If teachers attempt to effectuate disciplinary procedures on their own, if they use some of the discipline programs that are available in the marketplace, children often accuse their teachers of misconduct. Even if the accusations are unfounded by the time the facts of the case have been sorted out, the teacher’s career is often ended.

Standing in front of a chalkboard is no longer an effective teaching strategy. Teachers need to develop creative thinking to help students learn through discovery. Finding out how to spark a student’s incentive to learn will be much more effective than the rote methods ascribed to by  Keliher.

References

Buer, R. (2007). Teaching children to care. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Center on Education Policy (June, 2007). Answering the question that matters most: Has student achievement increased since NCLB? Washington: Author.

Dale, D. (2009). Public Issues Education: A Handbook. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Dudeney, G. (2007). The Internet and the language classroom. (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gamson, W. (2004). Talking politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gentile, D. & Walsh, D. (2003). The impact of background television on parent-child interaction. Child Development 80(5), pp. 1350-1359.

Keliher, E. Forget the fads-The old ways work best. Newsweek, September 30, 2002.

Midgley, J. (2001). The United States: Welfare, work, and development. Journal of Social Welfare 10(4), pp. 284-293.

United States Department of Education. (2005). The structure of schools. Washington: Author.

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