It Started With a Quote

When the student is ready,
the teacher will come.
There are no shortage of teachers.

We have a new resource teacher at school named Vicky, and on Friday we were discussing our concern that, with additional budget cuts, we might be looking at 40 students in a classroom. Aside from the fact that most rooms aren’t configured for 40 students, there’s the concern about actually trying to TEACH 40 students and help them understand what’s going on.  We’re already under the gun for NCLB and worried about sanctions.  What happens when we truly cannot connect with every kid?

Thing is, depending on the kid and the school, this might not be a terrible thing.  Classrooms might be crowded, but there are kids who would totally thrive in that environment.  You know why?  Because they would totally thrive in ANY environment. There are kids who are natural learners.  They don’t need tricks or gimmicks to make connections, be thoughtful learners, or contribute to a class.  Whether by nurture or nature, students who enter school with extreme curiosity, willingness to take risks, and who see connections in the world will make it pretty much every time.  For these students, the upper 10-20%, school would continue to be business as usual.

However, for the other 80% who don’t embrace school, this would be an absolute horror.  These students do any number of things to avoid the discomfort that comes from having to do tasks they don’t understand.  You have your  kids who hide, are checked out, or who act out. In each case the child isn’t waving, he/she is drowning.  Yet, like swimmers near shore, they never consider actually just standing up.  These are students that teachers HAVE to touch base with, go through hoops for, keep on their radar, because otherwise, they ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT.

As a society, we are still debating what teachers need to do in classrooms to ensure student learning. While I can do better in how I deliver (logical sequence, task analysis, slower release of responsibility), at some point the student HAS to do the work.  I don’t know, really, that we’re raising too many students with this in mind.  The additional outside-the-bells work that has to happen, isn’t.  In most cases, neither the students nor their parents care.  Why should they bother? I hear from many that their child is frustrated and they just can’t MAKE them do the work.  I wonder to myself, “And you think I can?”  I think as a society, we’re looking at the wrong leg of education.We’re hyper focused on teachers and schools, but we’ve eliminated family contribution.  Why is that?

It seems that we’ve glossed over, forgotten, decided to ignore, or merely failed to recognize that it is the students who need to take in the information, make connections, and learn.  We don’t expect students to actually go through the process of learning. We look at scores from other nations and wonder WHY they are making it.  What do their schools do differently?  How are their teachers teaching. We never actually question how the society and families support school, making this aspect of society key to the country’s economic growth.  We need to recognize that all three, working together, will actually produce a well-educated populous.  We must have schools, students and families all working together.  In the United States, as a rule, we don’t.

Perhaps as a society, we’re not ready to go back to the hard work and sacrifice needed to return to our super-power status. When our children whine about boredom or cry about being made to work hard, we cave in. Perhaps, really, we’re ready to rest on our laurels, enjoy our bread and circuses, and scapegoat teachers for not doing everything for every child every minute of every day.  Perhaps we’re just waiting…

When the student is ready, the teacher will be there.

We hope.

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