Sunday, May 02, 2021

Once again.

Today I'll be doing some prep work at school for this next week's classes. In the meantime, there are two critical school and non-school factors that have the strongest influence on student success. These are no-brainers, meaning you don't have to be an educational expert to understand their effects.

The first is poverty. The longer a student spends in poverty, the more limited his or her educational outcomes. This affects drop out rates, college and community college enrollment, how early a student is forced to enter the job market, and their overall sense of potential for future attainment.

The second is class size. Small classes lead to better educational outcomes. This has always been true. It's been studied, but again the brain can tell you all you need to know if you are willing to take a fresh look at modern education. Small classes give the teacher more time to be responsive to individual student needs and aspirations. Is that so difficult for educational policy makers to understand? And if we understand it, the next understanding needed is to answer to the question, "why aren't we giving students what we know they need?"

The answer appears simple. The powers that be seem to have concluded that the purpose of education is to keep kids off the streets and under control. That's why, when my daughter was working on her masters in education degree, the primary focus of study was on classroom management. So it's obvious that the educational system cares more about the status quo of kids being controlled than it does about learning, and if that was not true, they'd do something about it. "What?" you ask? Number one is to eliminate poverty. Number two is to invest far more heavily in schools. More teachers in smaller classes, enabling teachers to be as free to grow as we hope their students will become.

We have a big, huge divide in America. There are those who care and want to do something about it, and those who would rather not care and are insistent that nothing happens to improve the lot of those who face poverty and are tied to an educational system that puts our teachers in situations that are impossible for students and teachers to thrive within.

And so we have the Clear Spring School and others like the Future School in Ft. Smith which we hope will serve as beacons for change.

The illustration is of Greek philosopher Anaxagoras, who said clearly that man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands. If you want to help, share this with others and demand change.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

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