Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fair to All Learners?

I read this morning

From the standpoint of a
reciprocal model of reading development, this means
that many cognitive differences observed between
readers of differing skill may in fact be consequences
of differential practice that itself resulted from early
differences in the speed of initial reading acquisition.
in What Reading does for the Mind (Cunningham. A. & Stanovich. K.E. 1997)
This article appears to imply that by making easier, shorter, & less resources available in the primary grades to less able readers, we actually do them a disservice. By lowering standards we are failing to give these learners the opportunity to fully develop their minds.
The one thing that will make citizens of our global economy viable will be the ability to think. The responsibility for learning clearly is upon the learners' shoulders not the teachers'. Educators should however provide many opportunities for encoding and decoding practice.
Are we doing this? Are we raising the bar higher to force learners to jump over? Or are we helping to 'dumb down America' by lowering expectations?
What are you going to do about it?
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Referenced: Cunningham,A.E., & Stanovich, K. E. (1997). Early reading acquisition
and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental
Psychology, 33, 6, 934-945.


IMC Guy said...

Of course we are dumbing down instruction. All we want kids to do is pass the test, right? Why try to develop creativity and critical thinking when those aren't measured on the test.

As teachers, we have to keep pushing forward despite everybody pushing against us.

Annie said...

As teachers get pressure from NCLB, schools take time out of the typical curriculum to prepare students for these standardized tests. Setting a bar creates an environment that hinders the full potential of learning. Students may or may not become obsessed with grades rather than acquiring knowledge.

I am currently studying to become a secondary math education teacher, and it will be difficult to escape the traditional form of instruction. I do feel that we may be lowering the standards for students. We are worried about the students passing a certain level rather than helping them obtain as much knowledge as they desire. However, these students are not always motivated. We can bring a lot of technology into the classroom and attempt to make it as interactive as possible, but I believe one of the most important things is focusing on the students as individuals. The most impacting teachers in my life have been ones that truly care about the people.

On the other hand, trying to be their friend will lead to students taking advantage of the teacher. Finding a happy medium becomes the most difficult task for many teachers today. Perhaps setting a standard may be a goal for the students, but we should avoid emphasis on the goal. The emphasis should be placed on drawing out their potential for achievement. I don't want to focus on who's right or wrong, but who is trying. The one thing I would like to avoid is only looking for who's right or wrong. Instead, I would like to guide the classroom towards discovering the answer to questions. Hopefully, I will learn how to help these students do the best that they can do.