Sunday, March 26, 2006

NCLB leaves learning behind

I believe that most children are born with a curiosity and desire to learn. In the beginning it is rudimentary but as they mature so does their desire to learn. Uness, of course, it's discouraged and killed by those who want to fit the child into a mold they were never intended to fit into. When a desired outcome becomes the most important goal, the child and his love for learning suffer terribly. Consider the idiocy of forcing a 13 year old to spend his school day just learning to read and do math and fobidden to take any other subjects.

According to a NY Times some schools are are leaving subjects certain subjects behind to focus on math and reading.

At Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High School in Sacramento, about 150 of the school's 885 students spend five of their six class periods on math, reading and gym, leaving only one 55-minute period for all other subjects.

About 125 of the school's lowest-performing students are barred from taking anything except math, reading and gym, a measure that Samuel Harris, a former lieutenant colonel in the Army who is the school's principal, said was draconian but necessary.

At one district cited, the Bayonne City Schools in New Jersey, low-performing ninth raders will be barred from taking Spanish, music or any other elective next fall so hey can take extra periods of math and reading, said Ellen O'Connor, an assistant superintendent.

"We're using that as a motivation," Dr. O'Connor said. "We're hoping they'll concentrate on their math and reading so they can again participate in some course they love."

The analogy used by one professor is very appropriate, "That's like a violin student who's only permitted to play scales, nothing else, day after day, scales, scales, scales. They'd lose their zest for music." The drastic measure is being taken for schools that fail to meet the "adequate yearly progress" requirement of No Child Left Behind. A federal prescribed "outcome" is forcing schools to dumb down these children and kill their love for learning.

If it wasn't clear before it is becoming crystal clear, measures like this will keep low performing kids behind for good. While they may become "proficient" in reading, they will be so far behind their peers in other areas that catching up will be impossible. With the trend toward choosing a career by the ninth grade these students will be locked into a track that will keep them behind for good with no hope of catching up.

I believe most children want to learn and are naturally curious. Unfortunately, the systemic approach to education has killed that love of learning in many of these children. When one of the children involved in the remedial work was asked what he thought he said,

"I don't like history or science anyway," Rubén said. But a moment later, perhaps recalling something exciting he had heard about lab science, he sounded ambivalent.

"It'd be fun to dissect something," he said.

He obviously has a spark of desire left. I hope someone gets a hold of that before its too late and he loses his love of learning for good.

(HT: CJ)

No comments: