21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan Shatz
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 11:10:20

    I love where you going with this Mr. Nager!! I am an East Coast transplant. I went to public schools for most of my life. I also went to private schools. Both environments have pluses and minuses. “It all depends.” My favorite line from my Earl Childhood Professor at Santa Monica Community College!

    Public Schools were innovative and adventurous when I was a kid in New York City. My parents migrated to the suburbs. The public schools were not as diverse in population — yet I managed to have fine teaching. My teachers were all well-educated and profoundly experimental. Not at all scared to profess their liberal points of view in a conservative community. The administration was supportive and let the teaching staff ‘do their thing.’ That was the 60’s and the 70’s.

    Now, its such a sad and different story. Everybody is afraid. There are scripted lesson plans. Nothing worse than seeing a classroom full of blank faces and moans and groans when you ask them to open up their Basal Readers. That’s why I will not be teaching in a public school classroom anytime in the near future, here in Los Angeles.

    I was a guest teacher for one year at a laboratory school. I guess that has spoiled me? The kids were so engaged and so excited to come into the classroom and see what the day held for them. Compare that with a little barrio in Los Angeles. Its like night and day. The students in low-income neighborhoods have low expectations. The teachers are rarely excited — so how can the students be?

    Its a combination of parents, school environment, and community. Our future generation will best survive in a dynamic learning community. The research had demonstrated this. The work at Project Zero at Harvard University and the work at Columbia University in combination with the folks at Lincoln Center’s Institute for the Arts in Education have wonderful programs for educators. It has to come from the Top down funding-wise and also from the Bottom up.

    I don’t have all the answers. How do we begin implementing? We can share ideas in this forum, but then we really do have to do the grunt work of raising funds through grants and community partnerships. The earlier you get to a kid and give them hope and lifelong learning skills — the better it is for all of us.


  2. Linda Rogers
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 11:42:12

    I’d recommend the book “Literacy with an Attitude: Teaching Working Class kids in their own self-interest” by Patrick Finn from SUNY Press.


  3. RAAckerman@Cerebrations.biz
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 11:49:53

    You hit on one of my big themes. Parent involvement.
    I am amazed how everyone (ok, certain political types) would like to blame our educational fiasco on the teachers. Yes, some teachers are much better than others. And, some teachers can, indeed, supplant the actions of parents- but those with such charisma, time, and energy are few and far between. And, have always thus been.
    No, it’s the parents’ involvement. From Grade 1 on. Insuring their children do their homework- starting well before 10 pm. Insuring that their kids learn to read- and read with them- until they are well on their way (typically, the third or fourth grade). And, even if they fake it, read a book or two. (Taking one out of the library, moving the bookmark along, and then returning it. It’s what many a parent who could NOT read- and did not want their children to know that was what was holding them back- did.) Taking an interest in what their children are learning.
    It lets the child know he/she is accountable. Which is not a bad attitude/habit to develop in one’s children, either.
    It’s why many children fail in college for the first year. Because there is no real parental involvement- and their peers are seemingly traipsing through the evening without a care in the world- “let’s join them”.)
    Here in Alexandria, we have worked with families that are generally considered at risk. Teaching them how to budget, pay their bills, have a conducive place for study at home for the kids. Has that made a difference? Yes. Has it rendered the ability of the children to pass all the mandated exams? Not all- not by a long shot. But, to say that more than half do now, compared to a decade ago, and more than 80% of all students go on to college is pretty amazing.


  4. T (@ToscaSac)
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 12:02:04

    My teen is mumbling this nonsense about no point in school but that is only after I sent her to public school. I started off by homeschooling her which she misses.

    School fails to tap into the heart and drive of many children. Parents can make the difference. I wish I had started a business before I became a mother. I think entrepreneurial ship and spirit are what make the nation great. That is what I am teaching her still.


  5. Joy
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 14:34:46

    When hopelessness invades, the effects can truly be catastrophic.


  6. Elise
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 14:51:08

    I think it’s a little more than unequality in teaching. I believe it’s also, sadly, unequality in expectations. From teachers and parents.
    I expect great things for my children. If I don’t, who will? I can not (will not) hope that some one else will.
    Great post Stu! I hope people really think about what you are saying.


  7. Bonnie - Your Better Living Maven!
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 15:14:23

    Hi Stu,
    As a fellow educator I so very much agree with you on this topic but it’s more than that. You’re also looking at nutrition, early introduction of books, better sleep. Still I have seen inner city kids beat the odds and almost every time it’s because they had a parent(s) who pushed and had faith and expectations. They made these kids know that they mattered. What a difference.


  8. Becky
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 15:15:51

    I agree with Elise. It’s really important to help motivate your kids because no one else will. Not Your Ordinary Recipes
    Not Your Ordinary Agent


  9. Emily R. King
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 17:50:42

    I totally agree that parents MUST be involved. If you show your child their education is important by being active in their school, they will take their education more seriously. My father has been an educator for thirty plus years. He’s now a Superintendent, and he has always said that the schools can provide the best teachers, curriculum, and extra-curricular programs, but if parents don’t care about their child’s education, it’s all for nothing.


  10. Lynn Brown
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 01:05:04

    Another good read Stuart! It really does start with the parents. Involvement with our kids is so important. I can’t even imagine not being involved in our son’s life. I believe early on our encouragement to reading rather than TV and writing rather than video games help him to build a more solid foundation. He is now off to college and we can’t be more proud that he is now taking his life in his own hands and making his own decisions. School, learning and experiencing life is so important, even if part of that time is working at McDonald’s!


  11. Marie
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 08:25:28

    Absolutely! It takes parents, educators and yes, politicians support through equitable education to make a child successful in school.


  12. Richard Wiseman
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 09:57:50

    I was a state secondary school teacher for 16 years and it’s my opinion that if any child is given enough opportunities, enough time and the right teaching approach, for the majority of them there are no limits to what they can achieve. The education system has become a way of ‘branding’ young people with a work related ‘alphabet’. I recently wrote a blog about how in the 30 years since I left school the UK is still failing young people. http://richardwiseman.blogspot.com/2012/02/with-everything-to-lose-youth-training.html As usual, great blog. Good to see someone championing the cause of youth.


  13. JoeN
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 09:56:51

    Given what you say here, I think you’ll find this leading article on mine in a recent Times Educational Supplement magazine in the UK, well worth reading. It merited a special response from the UK’s Chief Inspector of Schools in the next edition…sadly still in denial.


  14. Short Poems
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 13:04:48

    Great useful post!


  15. Stuart Nager
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 13:05:21

    Thanks everyone.

    Yeah, it starts in the home: parents who realize they are not just providing room and board (if even that). Eating well, sleep, setting boundaries and keeping them, teaching principles, spending time with the kids doing as opposed to watching…nurture. Challenge. Don’t give into the petty wants and needs of the whines. I’ll try to answer each of you individually, but…in all…we know what needs to be done:

    How do we accomplish it?


  16. bubbleshooter2.info
    Mar 19, 2012 @ 12:23:08

    Hi there, Thanks a lot for this wonderful blog post! I have to save Would You Like Fries With That? bornstoryteller. Thank you.


  17. Stuart Nager
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 07:45:06

    Reblogged this on bornstoryteller and commented:

    While I have been slumbering, figuring out what to say/do with this blog, someone “liked it’ this morning: rereading it, it gave me a renewed sense of purpose. I am job hunting, and that has taken over most of my concentration. Today I have two interviews, both for Director/Manager of Education position in arts administration. This post already has helped clear some of the cobwebs I’ve laid in my own way. Thanks for the like, Isurrett2.


  18. Lisa Wields Words
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 08:03:31

    I’m so glad you are back Stuart. Sending good vibes your way for the job interviews. I can’t wait to here how it goes.



  19. MuMuGB
    Sep 15, 2012 @ 11:30:05

    What would we do without pushy parents? Education is becoming more and more the privilege of the wealthy. This is probably what I miss most about France: free education for all. And a good one. Shame it’s only about maths!


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