Good for students: Proven, research based approaches to economic equity and school readiness
- “Grit and Rigor” are not magic words that make developmentally inappropriate choices and wrong-headed approaches suddenly work.
- Repeatedly insisting that annual testing is top priority in the education-as-vehicle-to-equity approach is either intentional and diversionary- or unintentional and ignorant.
- BUT: To be an educator in this modern time and to not realize that the changing world requires changing approaches in how we prepare young people for that world is dangerous-to yourself and those you teach.
YES our kids need to increasingly be able to grasp more and be able to do more than they once had to, but a large part of why they are not already isn’t because schools are failing or we’re not identifying “bad teachers” -it’s because of what we’re failing to do collectively. It’s what we allow to happen, and it’s even what we sometimes willingly participate in. To do the “long story short” (out of character for me, I know): our society is failing on the front end to prepare the number of capable learner/leaders it once did- and instead is focused on manufacturing mindless consumers and future workers.
What we are failing to do-and here I mean “we” collectively-a community a state, a nation-a world even. We are failing to hold our leaders truly accountable, rein in our markets and our own participation in them, and to teach our kids true character and responsibility. We’re failing to identify models and to really lift up examples of the kind of people we want our children to grow up to be.
Little bodies are being poisoned by cheap garbage food, their minds poisoned by the smut glorified in the media, and instead of focusing on those endemic and chronic dangers- we are driven to serve numbers tumbled and polished in various complicated formulas; or scores on various standardized tests that supposedly signify human value. But more proficiency on standardized tests of academic skills requires brains that process and perform more proficiently, which requires a foundation of cognitive health and experiences that will support and proficiency.
That means focus on positive cognitive engagement from birth, maybe even before (I would sing to my wife’s belly, and purely anecdotal evidence leads me to believe “You are my sunshine” worked magic on my daughters when they were in-utero). Great books in every home; parents freed from low-wage servitude enough to participate and support academic and emotional development; social networks and experiences away from televisions and gaming screens…
Making these the standards we shoot for would be a difficult goal, for sure- and potentially costly to the garbage dealers, smut peddlers and testing corporations (as well as PACs, non-profits and politicians feeding at their trough). But entering into this reform battle is true grit, and it’s not just good for students-it’s good for us all.