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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Chapter 7: Who Decided?

Who Decided?

Who decided that  the concept of middle school for  children from  ten  to fourteen  was a good idea?  At the very  time  when children  are most insecure, they are forced to leave a  familiar environment where they  know  the teachers, their classmates, and the school to go to a new school in which they have to begin  all over again.

At  a time when children should be  able to  contribute  to the  school community by being leaders and top of the heap,  they are  made insignificant by being put at the bottom of  the  heap.

They are forced into a situation where they have to  re-establish themselves with a group of new students, new teachers, new  rules and  lots  of anxiety.   At this most precarious stage  of  their development, physically, mentally and socially, the school system gives them a double whammy by casting  them adrift.

Who decided that the  K-8 school was an outmoded concept and children  needed to be separated from younger children when  they reach preadolescence?  In the K-8 school, the older children were leaders the younger ones looked up to and wanted to emulate.  The

K-8  school  helped  the older students by putting  them  on  the student council and in general gave them opportunities to  became responsible   models  for  the younger ones.   The  school   also crossed age lines and used older students to help younger ones to learn.  Older students understood that they should not disappoint the  younger ones by acting irresponsibly.  It would  be  noticed because everyone knew them  and had high expectations.

Who  decided  that middle school teachers  could  teach  any subjects  because  they  had a K-8 certification?   If  they  are assigned  to teach math, science or social studies, they  do  not need an extra certification in these subjects as do  high  school teachers.   Many  schools  do not  provide  teachers  with  extra training when they make these assignments.

There  are a lot more  questions that come under  the  topic of   “Who  Decided?”.   Who decided that the school  year  should consist of 180 days out of  a possible 260 days?  Who   decided  that  children  should  be   segregated   by chronological   age  rather  than by   other  criteria  such  as: ability  level, maturational level, learning style, to mention  afew?   Age probably is the least valid indicator of the range  of possibilities of a group.    Who  decided that there is only one way to teach  a  subject and  that  administrators are the best judge of what that  method should be?  The whole language approach to reading as opposed  to phonics  is  one example.  Instead of teachers  being  expert  in several  approaches,  they must teach  one approach, and  if  the child cannot learn that way, he fails.  No consideration is given to  the fact that children have different learning styles:   Some are right brain learners, some are left.   Some  require a  great deal of repetition and hands on experience, others do not.   Some are auditory learners, others are visual.  Some a slow to mature, others are not.

Who decided that administrators and school board members are better  judges  of what makes a teacher good than  the  teachers?  Administrators  and Boards give teachers  life-time tenure  then leave  and  the  teachers  and the  school  are  left  with  the consequences  of their  ill-formed, often politically  motivated, decisions.    Who  decided that teachers are qualified to  practice  their profession  with  a  few  months  of  student  teaching  and  no internship?   At least three years internship under the  guidance of  experienced teachers should be required before a new  teacher is left on her own in the classroom.

Who  decided–but  I am running out of space.  You  can  add your own question now.



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