BY SHARON MARTIN
What helps a kid score well on the next test isn’t necessarily what makes him a thinker or a lifelong learner.
There are no quick fixes.
Not everyone will arrive at the benchmarks set by researchers and legislators at the same time. Some never reach them.
When a student learns to think for herself, she will have the tools she needs to educate herself. This, not a head full of random facts, should be the goal of educators.
Size matters. In small schools, where teachers know every child’s name … and their parents and their grandparents … fewer kids fall through the cracks.
Class size matters even more. Research proves that 14 to 18 students in a classroom give the best results.
Too many legislators ignore good education research.
Parents are the single most important component in a child’s education. If parents are involved in a meaningful way – teaching what they know, reading to and with their child, having real conversations with them about real topics – the student is much more likely to be a success.
Public schools are not, as a self-described Tea Party member once said, indoctrination machines. They can be, however, scary places if your eight-year-old is afraid he’ll flunk third-grade year because he doesn’t read as well as his friends.
National standards are not the enemy.
Standards that ignore development psychology are. It is futile to push students to learn a subject before their minds are ready.
Recess matters. So do lunch breaks and cooperative learning opportunities. Social skills are an essential part of the informal curriculum.
Hands-on activities beat workbooks almost every time. It is experiences and not worksheets that students will remember.
Music, art, and life skills should be part of every curriculum.
We do not have too many administrators. The work that superintendents and principals do make possible the work that teachers do. Ask any veteran teacher about the importance of a good administrator.
Education doesn’t end at the schoolhouse door or on graduation day. It lasts a lifetime.
Sending young people into the world with a passion for knowledge and for the work they have chosen are our goals. This, not earning power, test scores, or Ivy League degrees, should be how we measure education success.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer