From WSJ (via Slashdot)
Detractors say that the kids are wasting too much time online browsing dangerous sites, instant messaging friends, and posting to Myspace. Parents are worried that serious learning is being neglected in the quest to ‘dazzle up presentations with fancy fonts instead of digging through library books.’ Some parents however are ‘enthusiastic laptop proponents,’ one saying the laptop has helped her twelve-year-old son ‘master critical professional skills like how to compile a PowerPoint presentation.
The worst part is that there is a choice between books and classroom materials and laptops. I wonder how education spending compares in resources building schools in Iraq and Afghanistan than for children here in the proud United States.
I’m a parent of teachers so I’m a bit biased. I just think public education in this country is a massive disaster and No Child Left Behind is only going to make everything much worse. I wonder how much worse our public schools can get. My dad predicted this ‘love of testing’ tripe decades ago.
I think the single largest barrier to a child’s education is their parents.
Uneducated parents don’t know the skills to succeed academically so they aren’t able to enforce study habits and cultivate their kid’s learning. Uneducated parents also can feel threatened by a child’s becoming smarter than them – and possibly becoming more mobile and leaving the family or community. My dad’s slogan for public school education is: “Give us your best and brightest and we’ll have them down to average in no time.”
Teachers spend so much time meeting the emotional needs of their students that there’s no time for learning. Of course, my views are colored by being in the Indiana school system. We had high schools where they didn’t teach anything beyond geometry.
I’m also an advocate of tracking – that is, having ‘advanced classes’ or a ‘gifted and talented’ program. I think it is stupid to lump all the kids together simply to make everybody feel good. How can normal or advanced kids learn when the emotionally disabled kid is chewing the door off the handles? I started fourth grade just as they started their GT program and it is refreshing to be with kids who actually care about their education.
Let’s face it: if it was kids who could dribble a basketball faster than anybody else, they’d bend over backwards to make sure they had whatever they needed to succeed.