An Indication of What your Child Experiences on the First Day of School


First Day

Below is one of the most telling statements that can be made about the current state of education:

Nothing prepares you for that first day. I can still remember calling my wife during my lunch break (hey…I taught in California then…breaks were mandated) almost in tears…saying “I have absolutely NO idea what I am doing”.

Tim Villegas, Things I Wish I Knew My First Year Of Teaching Special

Our schools are disaster zones, particularly for children who do not learn quickly and easily. This comment by a dedicated new teacher tells us immediately how well his professional training prepared him for the first day in the trenches. It is a resounding condemnation of our professional schools of education, their degrees and diplomas and the complete lack of useful tools and strategies that they provide for beginning teachers.

I was trained as a teacher more than 40 years ago. The training wasn’t any better then than it is now. One of my first classes was a group of 42 students, all in ninth grade for at least the second time. Needless to say, they were not in the academic stream. They were the cast-offs. I had them for two forty-five minute periods at the end of each day for their two favorite subjects, History and Geography. I think that my only salvation was in being their football coach. My discipline on the field carried over into the classroom. Sometimes you get lucky.

But most often when you get thrown to the wolves you get eaten alive. That is the reason why I do not blame the teachers for the current shambles we call an education system.

If they were given effective tools and strategies, they would use them for everyone’s benefit. Instead they are mandated a curriculum, dealt out a set of books or handouts, and left to their own devices. That helps to explain why 85% of children in special education classes show no change in test results during an academic year. It also explains why school districts exempt these students from testing whenever they can get away with it.

If we want well trained teachers, we have to teach them what has been demonstrated to work from the research archives and its many journals. Curriculum choices have to be made on the basis of hard data, not anything else. Reading Recovery, touted to be the answer for poor readers has recently been shown to have no positive effects. We should have known that from well documented, data based studies, before we blew away another generation of kids at risk of school failure.

When will this lesson ever be learned by the educational mandarins who subject our teachers to nonfunctional training and follow it with non-effective curricula?

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