- Curriculum adoption, knowledge vs. student centered curriculum (April 15, 2016)
When considering curriculum, school boards must consider the population they intend on reaching. There are many circumstances which must be considered in order to provide the best education to students, even on the macro level of curriculum adoption. Experts find themselves disagreeing with one another about the best way to serve and equip students of the next generation.
Two important issues school boards must consider is the adoption of national standards and the use of technology in the classroom. While experts appear divided on these two issues, districts must make decisions that will result in student centered education. There are many points to be raised about both topics.
For example, perhaps students should have more access to technology as they travel through school. Once they graduate these very same students must be able to utilize the technology many jobs have come to rely on. However, perhaps schools miss the boat when they only create environments that support learning through technology. There is interpersonal knowledge that can only be developed by working with one another face to face. This knowledge includes such things as learning how to respond to conflict or even having empathy for others. When it comes to national standards adoption, school boards that choose local standards may hinder students who consider jobs outside of their home state after graduation. However, when national standards are used, students may miss out on noteworthy information that national standards to not necessarily highlight.
Regardless of decisions made, all students must be equipped with an education that ushers them into the adult world leaving them competitive in the job market as well as competent and able to succeed. By finding a balance, school boards can make thoughtful decisions about these two important classroom issues.
- Character, Moral and Religious Education (May 1, 2016)
Religion in some form or another is inescapable within the context of a classroom. Whether the subject is history, science or art, religion plays some part in the evolution of school subjects. Teachers must find and strike a balance between properly portraying religions and maintaining a non-bias stance. While this is not impossible, it is difficult. Many teachers have well formed ideas of certain religions and it is difficult to not portray bias.
Outside of specific subjects, morality and the issue of character education can also be tied to religious affiliation. While you do not have to be religious to be a good person, much of the time it is easiest to refer to Biblical reasoning for such things as treating others well, being honest and trying your best. It is important to remember any one of your students may not be affiliated with a religion or may even feel as though they are viewed as a bad person because of their lack of affiliation.
Regardless of the potential correlation between morality and religion, I believe it is important to encourage character education within the classroom. This does not mean it must be taught from a Biblical perspective. Such phrases as “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself” are widely accepted and respected no matter what background one may come from. There are a variety of Character Education curriculum available that are not tied to religious values. We as teachers are obligated to help develop upstanding and contributing members of society. Our nation relies on it. If teachers neglect this aspect of education in the public school system, future generations will suffer the cost in every avenue of life.
- Learning and Emotional Disorders (May 8, 2016)
Discussing and addressing learning and emotional disorders within the context of the classroom has, for many years, been a source of frustration, contention and confusion on the part of both the parent and the educator. Amidst these charged feelings, over the last few decades there has been a strong push to mainstream students with both learning and emotional disorders. As a teacher with extensive background in mental health, this topic is of particular interest to me.
It has been my experience that more often than not it is the parent who has the strongest feelings toward the idea of special education for their children. In Taking Sides: Teaching and Educational Practices, argument author’s Kauffman, McGee and Brigham recognizes the struggle parents have, suggesting people no longer see special education as “fair or equitable”. In fact, Kauffman, McGee and Brigham, suggests parents may be on to something, stating the education system has lost sight of what accommodations for students actually should be. Instead of allowing students “off the hook” in order to accommodate their needs, we should be providing accommodations that actually help them meet the standard, not change the standard itself.
Accommodations cannot and should not be a “one size fits all”, just as everyone is different from one another, metal and physical disabilities manifest themselves in different ways. Accommodations should be provided. Schools should work to provide fair and equitable education no matter what the child’s abilities. However, educators must be careful not to limit a child’s ability to develop independence by providing an academic crutch. Certainly, the job of creating and implementing accommodations may be seen as more difficult with this sort of mentality, however, the education system would do students a disservice with anything less.
Evans, D.L. (2008). Taking sides: teaching and educational practices. (3rd ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.