running head: The Education System Is Failing
title of paper: the education system is failing! A critical new savior arrives author name: Tyler J. Shepard
institutional affiliation: University of Washington Tacoma
professor name: Doctor Montgomery
class name: TEGL2013; Introduction to Indigenous Philosophy Spring2017Introduction
It is clear that our education system is failing our children. This includes indigenous children. I say it is failing because we are not including the ways and methods of our children’s culture. I expand upon the wonderful and powerful ideas of Culturally Responsive Teaching.
Gone are the days where reading a dusty textbook and reciting facts to an authority figure exclusively count as learning.
This method permits authoritarianism by one group or another in books, lesson plans, and what is permitted to be taught. While we cannot remove the old system as easily as it ought to be we can nudge it left. I was inspired to write this paper because of a discussion in Waters, 2004 on how learning occurs in native nations. In the chapter on Education Hester, 2004 argues that correction is a western idea of thinking and it isn’t in his culture. I am an education student and am learning about culturally responsive teaching which aims to bring different cultures into the classroom. the old method of learning
I grew up in the old way of teaching, where the teacher would have us copy down facts and repeat them back like a bird. Honestly I hated it. I felt I was not being able to think for myself until high school and college. I may be a coffee drinking, critical thinking, northwest living liberal but these words from Lawler, 2013 chill me to the bone. “The best way to motivate students is to challenge them with realistic (and therefore tough) assessments of their shortcomings. It’s a good idea to shout at them when they’re slacking off. And to let them fail when they’ve actually not made the grade through lack of effort or natural gifts” (Lawler, 2013.)
While I agree that children who don’t put in the work should be held to account, I don’t think we can assume that it is all their fault. Home structure and stability plays a huge role in how students manage home and school life.
He continues by saying that students do better when they are filled with the idea that their teacher will yell at them if they should fail.
“Real self-esteem-pride as opposed to vanity-comes from pleasurable reflection on real accomplishments, on meeting real challenges, on magnanimously or generously displaying one’s personal greatness. So the best teachers are stingy with praise in order that it really mean something. And they praise students not only or even mainly for their intellectual accomplishments but for their “class.” Being classy is just knowing how to act as aresponsibly relational being in a particular situation. It’s not some pretension of the privileged, unless by being privileged you mean having been given the challenge of living well as a free and relational person. Poverty is no barrier to being classy, as anyone with classy eyesnotices every day” (lawler, 2013.)
I agree with this idea however, some children come with baggage that may make them act disrespectful. We must work with their families to figure out the root of the problem and not just yell at them.
He keeps stating that “studies show that” blah blah blah but doesn’t provide citations so we can look them up. I find this insane based on his bio: “He is Dana Professor of Political Science at Berry College in Georgia. He is the editor of the quarterly journal Perspectives in Political Science and is the author of Postmodernism Rightly Understood: The Return to Realism in American Thought and Aliens in America: The Strange Truth about Our Souls and Modern and American Dignity: Who We Are as Persons, and What That Means for Our Future (Lawler, 2013.)
I also wonder if those studies are real? If so, cite them so we can visit them and judge for ourselves. I don’t agree with the idea that we must yell at students if they are doing something wrong. Raising our voices to denote disapproval is one thing, yelling at a student and demeaning him/her is not the way to go. However, I agree that we should hold them to high rigid standards eg, writing a paper in APA style and following all formatting rules that come along with it. You can hold students to a high moral plane without yelling at them.
Besides the idea of forcing children to do what the school says is correct and yelling at them to do it right, the old method of teaching has one other flaw. This flaw is the idea of copy and pasting knowledge. What that means is that students are taught knowledge and are told how to think. This is the important information and you will be forced to tell me why on a test.
I had a teacher like that in college. She would a sign let us say Waters, chapter 17, and have us have that read by Thursday. Well, I forgot to read one of the chapters and it didn’t even matter. It didn’t matter because she would go over it in class and have us take notes on it – after we took notes on it while we read it – then put that on a test. The entire chapter in a powerpoint. No critical thinking. We were to just tell her what is important. So, I wasted my money. Why should I have bought the book if all we were going to do is read it and then spend two hours talking about it?
I like how you run things Michelle, you have us read the textbook chapter and then reflect on it critically. Asking us to write down words that struck a cord with us and to formulate questions is the way to go. Now we move from the old method to a more modern method. Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT)
Before we can explain my idea for improving the educational system it might be a great idea to define Culturally Responsive Teaching. After all, my idea uses this idea as a springboard.
“Culturally responsive teaching can be defined as using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them. It teaches to and through the strengths of these students”
(gay, 2000.) CRT has the following “characteristics:It acknowledges the legitimacy of the cultural heritages of different ethnic groups, both as legacies that affect students’ dispositions, attitudes, and approaches to learning and as worthy content to be taught in the formal curriculum” (gay, 2000.)
It fosters a link between home and school by drawing upon the home language.
“It uses a wide variety of instructional strategies that are connected to different learning styles.
It teaches students to know and praise their own and each others’ cultural heritages.
It incorporates multicultural information, resources, and materials in all the subjects and skills routinely taught in schools” (gay, 2000.) POUR putting the student first.
Today, I present to you a new theory that has been written about within the field of web accessability for many years now. It is called POUR or Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. POUR is a guideline for website creators to make their content friendly for everyone, regardless of ability level. I feel this can also impact the education system.
The brain consumes knowledge through the senses every day. Why should learning be any different?
A CRT teacher can find ways to get the necessary knowledge to a student. We need not just the textbook which reinforces limited learning. But we need teaching methods that show girls and people of the global majority that they do matter and they can be a success. The internet is one such method.
If you cannot learn through a textbook but you can learn from a video why is that an issue? “If the information cannot get into the brain, it is inaccessible.” (Constructing a POUR Website, 2017.)
“Teachers recognize that the ways people perceive the world, inter- act with one another, and approach learning, among other things, are deeply influenced by such factors as race/ethnicity, social class, and language. This understanding enables teachers to cross the cultural boundaries that separate them from their students” (flint, 2008.) Operable.
Is your teaching style getting to every child? If not, why? Perhaps it is because they aren’t ready for the knowledge. What gives those from the state the right to say that all students must know this by this time? I don’t think this is helpful for students. If a student doesn’t know something by a deadline the student isn’t stupid they need more help. If they cannot access the knowledge then it is lost. This is a problem.
Their is a disconnect in our society where we falsely put teachers on a pedestal and give them the keys to knowledge. What I mean is: the state says what is ok to know, teachers teach, students learn, and the world is in balance. However, I cannot help but feel that we are failing our children in this way of learning.
Who is to say that how I teach a class on a topic is correct? Maybe another child has an idea on how I can make these topics clearer.
I have found that group work can bring out critical thinking much more effectively than lecture. Through this thinking children can form their own truth and start formulating ways to articulate it. Understandable.
What does understandable mean? A state standardized test question can be perceived by the students eg, it can be herd or read. A state standardized test question can be operable eg, it can be used in a test. The real question is is it understandable? Not across the country.
“Understandability can be just as big a barrier to accessibility as any of the more technical issues. Talking about understandability moves the discussion into the broader realm of usability” (Constructing a POUR Website 2017.)
Usability in education is the most important issue we face today. The United States forces our children to take standardized tests so that they can graduate with the same knowledge across the nation. An issue we face is the misconception that understandability across the nation is universal. A child in the inner city may not know what a black diamond run is on a question about skiing. Where as a child from a more affluent part of the nation may know what a black diamond run is.
This shows the disparity within our education system. We have two education systems, one for the rich one for the poor. We as teachers must work to include our student’s own stories in the classroom. (Flint, 2008) has some advice for teachers to make a student’s understanding of the english language easier: “In classrooms where language is viewed as a resource, there are a number of different ways to encourage oral language development: small group discussions, brainstorming, choral reading, dramatic play, debates, storytelling, partner reading, language experience stories, and read aloud. These events support students’ evolving understandings of language variation and use. Engaging students in literacy activities that make explicit use of home languages helps to affirm the relationships between home, community, school, language, and identity” (2008.) robust
A robust pedagogy is the most important thing to think about in this nation. We have a nation with many different languages and stories. We are all put in the schoolhouse to learn the same information. Adapting the opening line from (whiting, n.a,)on the gender gap I find it still works: “Sitting in the same classroom, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, white and students of color receive very different educations. It is up to the teacher to have a robust lesson plan. This quote from Tomlinson et al explains why.
“While heterogeneous instruction is attractive because it addresses equity of opportunity for a broad range of learners, mixed-ability classrooms are likely to fall short of their promise unless teachers address the learner variance such contexts imply (Gamoran & Weinstein, 1995). What he is saying is that a perfect classroom can only be a reality if we cater the lesson to all students on an individualized system. Yes these students may have structures in place to ketch them if necessary but they must still return to the “normal” classroom.
We cannot have a cookie cutter way of teaching because we don’t have a cookie cutter way of learning. Conclusion
This new way of thinking shows that teaching can both be culturally responsive to students but also be accessible to all students no matter how they learn. I have reflected on an idea that uses the tenets of internet accessability and puts them to work on our education system. We can no longer consider our white way of learning and correcting knowledge to be the way of the future. Yelling isn’t an answer. Our future is in Culturally Responsive Teaching and POUR is the tool of said future.Works Cited Constructing a POUR Website
Putting People at the Center of the Process (2017) retrieved from webaim.org/articles/pour/
Flint, A. (2008) Getting to Know Students: Developing Culturally Relevant Practices for Reading and Writing
edited in Literacy in Australia: pedagogies for engagement chapter 3 (pp. 52-84) Gay, G. (2000) Power Pedagogy Through Cultural Responsiveness
edited in Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice (gathered from a pdf with no pp.) Teachers College Press, New York, Ny. 2000 hester, H. (2004) Choctaw Conceptions of the Excellence of the Self, with
Implications for Education. edited in Waters, A. 2004 American Indian thought: Philosophical Essays (6th edition).
Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. pp 182-87
Lawler, P. (2013.) Teaching as shouting: The Wisdom of Old-fashion Teaching Methods The Imaginative Conservative. retrieved from
Tomlinson, C. Brighton, C. Hertberg, H. Callahan, C. Moon, T. et al. (2003.) Differentiating Instruction in
Response to Student Readiness, Interest, and Learning Profile in Academically Diverse Classrooms: A Review of Literature.
Journal for the Education of the Gifted. Vol. 27, No. 2/3, 2003, pp. 119-145.
White, J. Hiden Lessons. retrieved from http://www.jackiewhiting.net.pdf