Despite the hype, not every kid wants to go to college. Not every kid would excel in college. That’s why more high schools should have vocational classes that teach things like carpentry or auto repair. Those students could get jobs after high school and not end up on the street with no life. While many today turn their noses up at voke ed, there are benefits for the students who don’t want to go to college -- and can’t afford to, either. A 2012 essay posted at studymode.com notes that voke ed can offer many students a more practical pathway to a good life than years spent confused in the classroom only to face the burden of college debt: “First of all, vocational education in high school focuses on specific training for a career or field. This hands-on training can be helpful in high school as students make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Many vocational high schools provide students with career preparation in health care, computer science, education, business, and any number of highly specialized trades. Individuals have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to become carpenters, electricians, machinists, painters, plumbers, or other professionals.”
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Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 10.16.50 AMIt was an early, misty morning with gray sky -- the first day of school -- and I was finally in tenth grade. I found myself in a math class, constantly looking at the posters on the walls. They all seemed to read: “chicken scrawl.” I couldn’t understand what the teacher was writing on the board. As the weeks passed, I was still confused. I can’t imagine what would have happened if the teacher hadn’t told me to come after school to get extra help. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have enough qualified teachers. While many are fabulous overall, others may know a subject but are unable to connect with students. That is a failing proposition. Parents, students, and administrators should fight to have effective teachers. That means those who know the material, have a passion for teaching it, and the ability to build bridges with students.
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Interesting. When you ask a five-year-old what he can do with a box, he has so many ideas. But as that kid grows up and goes to school, that creativity shrinks. One reason for this is the emphasis on rote memorization of things rather than actually using your brain. Many students feel they are learning how to pass tests rather than acquiring actual knowledge. They are getting used to there being only one answer for everything. It amazes me that they are not ready for the next level thinking, which is to understand that in life there is no one answer to everything. Just ask yourself: Did Steve Jobs use his imagination to make an iPod? Did Bill Gates use his creativity to make Microsoft?
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Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 10.16.12 AMMany schools all over America respond the same way when students break the rules. They crack down hard with suspensions or even expulsions. They only ask, “What law was broken?” and “Who did it?” They don’t seek the cause behind it. Many administrators are realizing that this may decrease the violence in school in the short term but that it can also lead to increased violence outside of school and may also cause students to give up on education. Now, some are turning away from this zero tolerance approach and adopting a restorative justice model that encourages offenders to apologize and take responsibility. As described in “Implementing restorative justice: A guide for schools” from the state of Illinois, the practice seeks to, “increase the pro-social skills of those who have harmed others, address underlying factors that lead youth to engage in delinquent behavior, and build on strengths in each young person.”
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I was different. I was the new girl in elementary school, the girl no one wanted to be around, the new girl who wore weird stockings and Old Navy sweaters, back when Old Navy wasn’t cool. I was the girl who had black hair instead of blonde, brown eyes instead of blue. I was different, a social outcast, ostracized by the very society I was to call home. Flash forward. I used to tell people my story and they’d call me strong or brave. They acted like out of bullying comes something beautiful. But my story is not beautiful. Sure, you look at people who used to be bullied and see where they are, they’re so “happy” and “successful.” I get it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? But what the people don’t see is the years of pain, the mental damage that comes with it. It is not beautiful.
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