Educational Changes – Good or Bad?

Educational Changes – Good or Bad?

Educational Changes – Good or Bad?

Of course, I am speaking colloquially.  There is no moral good or bad involved. 

If you have been alive long enough, you have heard of, or experienced, changes in education. 

Perhaps you have given up trying to help your child in math.

You might be wondering why the grades have changed from percentages to letters to numbers from 1-4, etc.  You might be wondering why early report cards for younger students now have only comments and no actual grades.  (I will be doing a blog about report cards and grades a little later.)

Change, change, change!

There are always reasons given for changes, but they are not always great reasons.  At times, they are not even understandable or pedagogically sound reasons. I honestly believe that various administrations need to justify their existence and cannot stop making changes even when there is no need – or at least no need for radical change.  Some people simply love the process and never want to settle on a foundation.

Just as with individual thoughts and beliefs as mentioned in the previous blog, there are times when change makes sense and times when you should stick to what works.  For example, more effectively implementing current educational methods could be better than overall restructuring.

Why change what is not broken!

There was a time when students were drilled on spelling words (not necessarily the best way to learn but probably should not be completely abandoned either).  Then some brilliant souls thought that spelling does not need to be taught.  It would come through practice in writing and lots of reading with little or no intervention from the teacher at all. It did not (and does not) work for most students.

Of course, some students will excel almost no matter what kind of education they have.  (Mind you, some of these students had parents who did not go along with the school’s methods; therefore, they did receive correction at home.) The major share of students who had years of no correction still cannot spell worth beans! I know because I work with adult students as well as younger students.

infiniteThe same could be said about some of the so-called “new math.”  I have heard this term since I was a child, and it is still being used today, so I cannot be sure what people mean by “new math.”  For grade school and secondary school students, there is no new math really.  It is the same math but taught in different ways. 

For example, a number of years ago I had a young boy learning how to divide.  I showed him how to handle long division, but the school was not teaching it this way.  I always try to help students show their work in the same method the school wants so that they receive full points.  In this case, however, the method the teacher was using took about three pages per question!  It had to be the most confusing way to do division that I have ever seen.  I did work it out so that I could explain it to him at the time; however, I can’t explain it now because I forgot it as soon as I could.  It was useless!

I had never seen a student use that method previously, and I have never had a student use that method since. This must have been one particular teacher.  The intention, I presume, was to make the task easier for the student to understand.  The result, however, was to complicate the process to the point of absurdity.  The next year, this boy went on to learn long division in two other ways, with some assistance from yours truly, and had no problems comprehending traditional methods. 

So what is the solution?

kidwritingGenerally, you won’t be able to change the board of education’s decision or a teacher’s teaching style for the time period your child is in a particular grade or class.  In fact, trying to interfere too much might create more friction and embarrassment.  It is much better to stay positive and do whatever you can to help your young one to succeed.

What you can do is ensure that your child is getting the necessary support at home.  If he or she is struggling in a certain area, you can help teach the methods you know.  If it does not fit perfectly with the school method, there will still be overlap that will help in the long-run.  Most likely, your child will have other teachers later who won’t use the exact same method anyway, so the more tools a student has the better.

Don’t forget that your child might very well be able to explain a lot of the material to you, and you will just need to go that one or two extra steps to clarify the information or process back. In other words, use what Johnny or Sally knows to add to your knowledge base, figure out the new process, and then explain it back to Johnny or Sally.

You can find lots of free resources online to help in math, reading, spelling, and so on.  Of course, your local library might also have free materials that you can access.  Workbooks can be purchased from bookstores or online to help in particular focus areas.

You goal is simply to support your children and give them the tools they need to build a strong foundation. 

You can be the stability they need.  You have a lot more power than you might think.

coachingOf course, if you feel you need additional support, a tutor can be very valuable.  A private tutor can assess your child and set up a program specific to his or her needs and learning styles while providing a safe place to make mistakes and learn how to overcome them.

Don’t forget that I offer a free information meeting.


Educational Changes


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