Every year there is a new training or curriculum that teachers are forced to implement in their classroom. While some of them are beneficial, most of them will fade away with the next newest education fad. With all of the changes in how we teach, it should be assumed that American students are getting smarter. However, our graduation rates are still low and our students still lag behind other industrial countries in reading, math, and science.
There are methods that we have used in the past that were effective. Why we stopped doing them is anyone’s guess. I propose we bring the following back to public schools:
1. Phonics and spelling should be taught in the early grades. Remember when you had a spelling book and you learned the rules of the English language? Spelling is a thing of the past. Students today don’t know how to spell or sound out a word they don’t know. They don’t even know how to look it up in a dictionary either!
2. Reading should be taught at the student’s level. One of the most frustrating things we do in the classroom is teach reading to a classroom of students when they read at different levels. Students who need to read at a lower level should be placed in a class with students who read at the same level. The idea of the bright students pulling up the kids who need extra help is absurd. Students who need extra help should be in a small class with a trained teacher.
3. Schools should focus on writing. It seems that students do not know how to write a paragraph. Since spelling has been thrown out of the window, some students seem illiterate. CEO’s are hiring English majors to send memos because their employees cannot write a basic letter.
4. Technical Education- Some schools have phased out technical education classes at high schools because they feel that everyone should go to college. The reality is that a lot of students are dropping out of school. If we could keep them in school and train them in a career, they would be less likely to commit crimes or get stuck in a low wage job. We should also offer ROTC in every high school. Students need options, and college is not for everyone.
5. Music, Art, and Physical Education should be in every school. Schools are so focused on standardized tests that they have eliminated or reduced the arts. Studies show that the arts increases I.Q. and academics. When students fail, schools take away P.E. and make them take an extra math class. We wonder why so many students are overweight and ADHD. Children need a break and an outlet. They can’t focus on academics all day.
6. Dress codes should be enforced in every school. When I was growing up, students could not attend school in flip flops, tank tops, saggy jeans, and Daisy Duke shorts. School is a very serious place, and it is difficult to concentrate with such a lax dress code. When I was in college, I noticed that the African students were dressed in slacks or suits. I asked him why Africans dressed up for school. He told me that going to school is a privilege, and that they took education seriously.
7. Teachers should have control of the classroom. When I was growing up, the teacher was the authority in the classroom. In the modern classroom, the children and their parents are in control. If a teacher offends a child, the parent complains to the principal without even talking to the teacher. It was also the teacher who decided if a child was promoted to the next grade. That era is over.
8.Students should learn their multiplication facts. As a middle school teacher, I am appalled at the fact that so many students don’t know their multiplication facts. When I was in school, we had drills every day. Some students struggle in algebra because they are so busy trying to figure out how to multiply that they can’t do more complex task.
9. Teachers should create real tests and not rely on multiple choice tests. Multiple choice tests are easy, but they don’t measure intelligence. Before multiple choice tests, students had to write out their answers and explain. Anyone can perfect the art of guessing. Whenever I give a test, my students ask if it will be multiple choice. They love multiple choice tests because they don’t have to think as much.