Why do you think school doesn't "work" for so many kids?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ecteach, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    I work in a public school, but I teach in a small setting with children with significant disabilities. So, what I see is so different. We have smaller ratios. We are able to work more 1:1 with kids.
    The reason I wrote this is out of frustration with my own son. My child has struggled in math since day 1. Every night I reteach him everything he's learned in class. HE NEVER KNOWS ANY OF IT WHEN HE GETS HOME! NONE! We study for hours each day before each math test. He usually gets around a 60. To me this is actually success, because he's get a 0 if we didn't study so hard. His homework and quiz grades (quizzes are much easier) usually give him a passing grade in math. But, it's literally just passing. I had him tested for a disability (LD Math) a few years ago, and his math was comparable to his IQ which was 110.
    We work in the summer on math. We work over spring break on math. I have blamed myself. I have blamed my son. I have blamed the teachers (silently). But, my son is just ONE child in the public school system who isn't performing at grade level....who has never performed at grade level. He is seen as a success to others because he's passing (barely), and he has ME to help him. I actually had a teacher tell me once that she doesn't know what would happen if my child didn't have me to help. No one has every brought his math grade as a concern to me. It's usually me going to them.
    Why do you think school isn't working for some kids? What can be done differently to help these kids who have struggled for so long?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I would stop studying for "hours each day" before a math test and during all breaks and the summer. What a rotten way to spend all your free time when you're a kid. What a great way to start hating math.

    To your original question, I think that we are asking students to learn and understand stuff before they're developmentally ready to.
     
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  4. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Rookie

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    For me, the problem was with the way math instruction was delivered. In almost every classroom, by the time you hit about 5th grade, math is taught strictly by example. It's I do/we do/you do example with little or no fundamental explanation of the steps. For most kids, they memorize the steps well before they're cognitively ready to understand the fundamental math reasoning behind the steps. That works for them, though some never do get to the understanding part. I'm wired backwards from the way math is generally taught. I have to understand the functions of the steps before I have much success solving problems. In the short run, it took me longer to learn, but in the long run, I have much better grasp on numeracy and better retention. Your son may be the same way.
     
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  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'll add that my school's middle school math scores are abysmal. I'm talking like 4% proficiency rates...I know that the teachers are working so hard, and it seems like the kids are really trying their best, but it's just not sticking. I honestly feel like this stuff is just beyond their ability to comprehend it right now. I think that it should be taught to them when they are a little older and after they've really grasped the lower level stuff (which they haven't so far).
     
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Maven

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    Your son may not have a math LD problem. What he may have is a short term memory deficit. I teach some children who act just like your child when it comes to math instruction. We use different techniques which actually involve less time cramming for tests. We do lots of chunking, teaching fewer concepts during each lesson, and lots of spiral review.
     
  7. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    I am a HS math teacher. I used to not believe this until I started teaching but I am starting to think some people's brains simply aren't wired to handle math. Just like some of us can't sing. Or dunk a basketball. Or paint. Or compose poetry. It's not you..or him...or the school...or the system.Just my opinion. There's more people who cannot do math than you might think...especially if it was a subject that you were able to master.
     
  8. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    Interesting perspective. It sure seems this way.
     
  9. Teachertimes

    Teachertimes Rookie

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    I think a lot of math is taught before it is developmentally appropriate. I truly don't think it is the kids it's the amount of content and how early the content is taught. It's just too much too soon. Once you lose a kid they just keep slipping farther behind and I think they don't catch up.
     
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  10. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    First, we still have too much of "one size fits all" concept. True, this has been improved some, but school is still set up to give most students the same curriculum although they will eventually work very different lives as adults. Too much pressure is put for the teacher to fix this, without help from others.

    Education isn't changing fast enough for how much children and the world are changing. Once again too much of this pressure to fix this problem falls on the teachers shoulders without the time or money added to help this.
     
  11. mathmagic

    mathmagic Connoisseur

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    To answer your original question: I think it's simply a matter of the fact that everyone learns differently, has different areas they're most engaged in, different home lives and experiences. In any system, we can differentiate as much as we can, but it'll never be perfect. Some kids also just learn at different paces than others. We cherish that in class, and are always focused around the growth we're making and learning from mistakes and struggles.

    As many have mentioned for math, since that was your specific example, many kids unfortunately develop a dislike for math (whether due to the way it was taught, being pushed concepts too early, or simply not seeing all the neat things in it), much like many kids might develop a dislike for reading because of having to meet certain requirements or never feeling successful.

    This is, to me, why focusing all the work I do in the classroom students around growth-mindset and around life skills that will drive lifelong learning is so important. A kiddo below level in reading who develops a love of reading and a positive growth mindset as a reader can catch up...one with a more fixed mindset or who doesn't see the purpose/general love of it is far less likely to. (or swap out math for reading).
     
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  12. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Companion

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    Mar 18, 2017

    Ideally, every child would have his or her own teacher; there would be a 1:1 student/teacher ratio. Oddly, such a system exists, but is widely overlooked. It's called family.

    You spend more time with your child than does the teacher, which makes you more responsible for his upbringing than the teacher can ever be. The teacher does not go home with your son, feed him, spend quality time with him, put him to bed, or wake and dress him in the morning. This is your son you are responsible for.

    Perhaps, one day in the near future, our teachers will be tasked with caring for every student 24/7, but that day is not today. It is wonderful that your son has a parent who cares; too many do not. That is what your teacher was trying to tell you. It's not a bad thing.

    It could be that your son has a learning disability manifesting in mathematics skill specifically. The reality of disabilities is different from public perception; I have seen what you describe many times before. And it is no one's fault. It's genetics, it's mother nature. "Normal" is an invention of lazy minds—all of us exist along a continuum of abilities and disabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Every last one of us. There are no exceptions.

    Have your son tested. If a learning disability is identified, focus your energies on strategies that best manage the disability.

    While you are at it, get to identifying his abilities and embracing those abilities, as these will best serve him throughout his life.
     
  13. Anonymous Barbie

    Anonymous Barbie Rookie

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    I think the difference is the world in which kids are being raised today vs how we were raised. The technology at their fingertips, the instant gratification. I kind of got a little of that being a millennial, but technology was a little bit more of a novelty when I was growing up.

    I just think that teachers aren't adapting their lesson plans for how kids learn today. My last school stressed getting the kids up out of their chairs for at least 10 minutes of each class, getting their brains engaged. They brought in the research to back up their claims that active engagement helps kids learn. I can see how it would be true, but adapting EVERY lesson to that is hard. It's a bit of a quandary, but if anyone figures it out LET ME KNOW.
     
  14. GemStone

    GemStone Cohort

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    Part of the problem could be that the reteaching done at home is different from how it's taught in the classroom. I worked with my son similarly to how you work with yours, but I think all the different methods from home and school confused him further.

    You may also be doing TOO much for/with him. Please read on:

    I can tell you that this kind of math assistance is going to become nearly impossible the older your child gets.

    You may need to fade yourself out. By that I mean, send him to work on his problems alone. Then you check his answers and let him find his mistakes with as little guidance from you as possible. Make him correct them alone. This helped my son, ESPECIALLY as he moved into high school and chose a finance pathway. He's now an accountant.
     
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