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Just a little something to think about………did you grow up in an area where you knew the people next door, across the street, and maybe even on the corner? Did you have friends whose parents looked upon you as one of theirs? Were you able to travel to the homes of these people because they had been vetted by your parents? Also, was there a house that you were not to go near for reasons that you didn’t figure out until much later? If the answer to two or more of these questions is ‘yes’, then you probably grew up in a neighborhood. think of you surroundings today; what are the answers for you or the children around you………are there sidewalks where you live? if so, you may still live in a neighborhood – but a funny thing happened in the 60’s – 90’s, especially if you became ‘upwardly mobile’; if you were transferred (relocated) by your company (now your corporate parent), you were encouraged to live in an area with no sidewalks, garages facing the streets, full of those just like you with no roots in the community. Why would that be? And what impact did that have on many of our societal structures? Schools, businesses, even religious institutions? Let’s see – the growth of chain stores and restaurants – no time to check out the area and learn the differences – homogeneity rules the day (takes a lot less time and thought). We want you to put your energies into the business, not into developing relationships and an identity in the area. So if you can’t tell if you’re in a suburb of Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Baltimore, or Minneapolis, so much the better.
Now, you may ask, how is this relating to education? We’re moving into an era of “one size fits all” in education as well. This is not to say that there shouldn’t be national standards, but the movement toward daily curriculum is scary undeed. Think of the garden; do all of the flowers, even on the same stem or bush, bloom simultaneously? Does their sequential blooming make them any less beautiful? So why are the new “experts” now expecting all youth to be at the same level at a specified time? Where are the allowances for individual learning styles and rates? Could it be that the standardized tests are wrong, or testing just one set of skills? Where is the testing for those who learn differently? Are we dooming those with different styles to a life of onderscheivement. Are we dooming those educators and schools who know how to reach them to extinction because they don’t follow a predetermined rate of academic achievement(predetermined by whom?).
Jut something to think about: how can this be used at the middle and high school level so that students are more prepared once they leave?
Could it be that youth are not achieving because in 21st Century America, there’s no connection between school (education) and the world of work? Stop for a minute – a century ago, everyone knew what “work” was……….the factory (bank, store, business, farm) was within walking distance of home. The teacher, preacher, banker lived not too far w=away. A student could see what the immediate world was like, even if their “place” wasn’t in it.
Shift to the present – the world of “work” is very separate from the world of “education”. In some neighborhoods, very little of the work world exists; maybe a fast food establishment or a gas station – no office buildings, manufacturing facilities, not even a bank – maybe the occasional post office. Is it any wonder that many students just don’t see the connection? Why stay in school without a purpose? Even in some more affluent areas, the connection between education and the “real world’ can sometimes be difficult to discern…..money is plastic or comes out of a slot; where is the effort that puts it in?
That’s what lead me on the path of “Real World”, connecting students with the outside, creating interest and excitement at a time (middle school) when some of the wonder of learning has dissipated and begins to take a back seat to the hormonal rages of adolescence. Let’s bring it back…………