Well, duh. Is it any surprise that a nationwide survey by the National Governors Association find dissatisfaction from students about their high school experience? Bored. Dumbed down. Not challenged.
We are becoming irrelevant because we continue to advocate a system that doesn’t allow our kids to pursue their individual interests and challenge themselves in meaningful ways.
How sad is it that “a large majority of high school students say their class work is not very difficult…” What does that say about what we’ve been doing for the last 100 years?
Charles Nelson says
Yes, challenging is good, but I’m not sure about the need to be “very difficult.” And I agree about the irrelevance of our schools. Even so, without more information, I would not pay much attention to the NY Times article. Think about it: about 2/3 would work harder if their courses were more demanding or more interesting. That’s true of anything, but it doesn’t say how interesting the courses actually are. About 2/3 believe their school had done a good job preparing them. What percentage believes our politicians do a good job in office? Or believe their boss is excellent or good? Of course, schools should not be dumbed down to the level of politicians or jobs, but still, that’s a large percentage saying the schools did a good job.
James Gates says
Agreed. To paraphrase,” We continue to do what we’ve always done, but now we’re no longer even getting what we always got.” There is a MAJOR disjoint between what we’re doing and whether the kids perceive it as being useful for their futures. A recent study by Apple Computer (I hope I have this right) showed that something like 75% of kids DO NOT feel that what they’re learning in school is of any value to their future. It’s no wonder they turn us off.
And… Consider this: in a local school district, there are no D’s available on the report card. A,B,C, and F only. And, teachers are discouraged from giving F’s, reasoning that the student had to have learned SOMEthing during the year, after all. So, kids can go there and do little or nothing all year and get c’s across the board.
Can you spell JOKE?
Oh, and at the risk of “turning this into a love fest”, I’ve enjoyed your blog for some time. It was nice to meet you at NECC. 🙂
Tom McHale says
I wasn’t surprised by the finding that students found their high school experience irrelevant, that’s been true of kids for as long as I can remember (and it’s been 27 years since I’ve been in high school). What did surprise me somewhat, was the response that kids didn’t find their work challenging or very difficult. At the high school where I teach, most of what I hear is the kids complain about how much work they have. Of course, the amount of work doesn’t necessarily correspond to how challenging the work is.
What concerns me most about this report is the reaction of the governors to it. Instead of looking at relevancy, which I believe is the real issue, I see many of them reacting like Governor Mark Warner seems to. The quick fix will be to require schools to place more kids in more rigorious courses such as AP and IB. Unfortunately, I don’t see these courses as being any more relevant to kids’ lives than less demanding courses. The real solution was offered by Marc Tucker who believes schools need programs that connect to what kids need. But as he states this would require “fundamental change in how they [are] operated.” I wish I beleived that this is what the governors would embrace, because a growing number of experts are calling for it. There’s an interview with Marc Presnky(author of Digital Natives,Digital Immigrants) on my blog (tmchale.blogspot.com) that calls for this kind of fundamental change and explains how school’s irrelevancy for this generation is very different than when I grew up.
Paula Petrik says
Irrelevant to what? What is it that kids need? How does what kids need today differ from what was needed 20 years ago? Fifty years ago? I find Mr. Presnky to be extremely tiresome and pretentious. His pronouncements have no evidentiary basis. Take this for example, “Well, for one thing, as my friend Mark Anderson says, they all realize they can go far beyond what their teachers know. It means that in terms of content they’re not limited anymore by their teachers.” They can access the web; they can access the world.” First, students have never been limited by teachers what their teachers know. Second, they may be able to access the world and web, but it’s often the case that they do indiscriminately. Or this, “Twenty years ago kids did not understand engagement the way kids do today. Intellectually, life was boring.” Huh? Where is the data for this observation?
It’s time that educators stop giving this guy air time; what he’s saying about teachers is insulting. Immigrants? Feh! And I’m not buying it. Parse his argument—what there is of it. Or, ask yourself whose interests his remarks serve.