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Not A Sitting Animal?

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I have been reading the postings on ADD.

Please don't think that I'm back tracking on what I posted there.

Sometime back on PBS, there was a documentary on education.

While my memory is a little hazy. It showed a school where the classes were, very unlike what I attended.

Where as I had to sit,listen and hopefully learn.

This class had the kids come in and work in small teams on projects. The students were free to move around the classroom, and make use of the available resources.

The students had made their own rules of conduct and had a list of consequences, that they had come up with for not following the rules.

Some very wise educator, with half alphabet after his name, went on to say that children, particularly boys were not a sitting animal. That they learnt far more when they were free to move about and work in this unconventional envvironment.

I do remember thinking as I watched it, that this is nothing new Baden Powell had said the same thing many years before.

I don't work in education, but I wonder if some of the children who are ADD,might be more at ease in this less formal classroom setting?


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Like most over 40, I sat in classrooms with the desks arranged in rows. The teachers stood at the front of the room and taught.


When I go to observe my kids' schools, the desks are in clusters and the teacher is never in the same place twice.


What I've observed is that these clusters that eveyone says are great for "co-operative" learning are trouble with a capital "T" for sociable children.


I've also noticed that despite whatever the schools say about the quality of education that the government and the parents are always complaining about the lack of education. For my part, I've noticed that kids today are lacking in many fundamental skills and are missing simply knowledge about the world. They may know about Excel spreadsheets but that is about it.


I've noticed that a simple understanding of geography is missing in the middle school kids that I deal with. No idea that Richmond is a city and not a state or even how a state differs from a city. No idea that Europe is on the other side of an ocean or that China and Japan are not the same place. I won't even get into language skills.





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Eamonn, i remember a PBS special that focused on a teenagers brain (ok so if someone could figure that out they'd be rich :) ). It was more on the fact that teenagers are on a different "wake cycle", they become more nocturnal. They even showed a test high school where classes started later, and the kids learned more. i.e. they're brains aren't awake at 7:30 in the morning!


I wonder if that was the same show you are thinking of? It would be great to see it again. Especially since my son is starting HS the end of this month.


Sparkie :)



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I have observed that my children learn very little in school, and quite a bit out of school. For my 15-yearold son, we took this to the logical conclusion and removed him from public school. My older son, 19, is doing well in college after doing very poorly throughout 12 years of public school.


OTOH. My 13 yearold daughter is an A-student in one of the best school districts in the state, NJHS and all that, popular and loves school for social reasons - and is the most poorly educated of my 3 kids as she never reads other than what is required, and prefers not to think about anything seriously if there is no test or grade attached. Good grades are easy for her without study.


A friend took his son out of school in 8th grade due to his failing grades and serious emotional adjustment problems (diagnosed ADHD, btw). After a year working at home, they've just decided they'd better send him back to school. Why? Well, he was working with his sister on her seventh grade mathematics and demonstrated an insufficient grasp of the topic.


Note that the boy had TAKEN 7th grade mathematics in public school as he wasn't withdrawn until 8th grade. Upon my inquiry, he had made a "B". To me, this demonstrates the failure of the public school, not the failure of the home school. His grasp of the math he'd studied on his own at home (geometry) is quite good, in my opinion - and my minor was mathematics, so I feel qualifed to have an opinion. But his dad was appalled at his lack of mastery of the subject he presumably learned in public school and decided to let them have another crack at him. Seems illogical to me but of course the decision to home school is considered a radical one and it can be difficult to do for some.


Anyway, I have found that good grades and an education useful in life are for practical purposes independent of one another. I've a friend who has severe dyslexia. He squeaked by in every class he took, working 3 times more than everyone else to barely pass. He now has a master's degree with the lowest GPA possible, and is one of the smartest people I know, and quite successful in his chosen field. (BTW, he used to be my employee and a very good employee he was - talk about work ethic!).

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Good Special Ed teachers know this. They have the kids active, let them squirm in their seats.

My ADHD son does not do well in the cluster seating. He learned at an early age to ask the teachers to move his desk away from the others, it was distracting for him to be that close to others. Crowded classroom with lots of "stuff" around distract him.


Each child learns differently. Standard classrooms and teaching methods do not take that into account.


My son is doing better in middle school because he changes classes. As he says "I don't have to sit and listen to the SAME person ALL day".

It is not very comforting though to see how much "free time" he seems to have. He takes comic books and magazines with him (he hates to read long books) all the time at school. He has read a few small paperbacks at school during this down time -- some of which is lunch time, but much seems to be in classrooms.


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Sparkie, I have yet to look at the link, but I did see that show on PBS.

Thanks for the link.

I do think that with so many things changing in the schools, we as adults who give up time to work with kids do need to keep up to date with at least some of it.

There are a lot of educaters who are now thinking outside the box.

Kids are learning and being taught in ways that were unheard of when I was at school. In fact the nuns at Holy Cross, would be lost.

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sctmom said it - "Each child learns differently. Standard classrooms and teaching methods do not take that into account."


you don't have to be ADD to have a different 'learning style', and educators are beginning to realize this. Some Schools are far ahead of others, some people even took it too far - and expected everyone to then learn with the 'new style' - remember when 'open'- no walled classrooms were popular for awhile?


the thing is, that every child deserves to be able to learn to the best of THEIR ability - and sometimes it takes both the child and the adults awhile to figure out what works and what doesn't for some kids.


As for WHAT they learn - many of us don't think the kids are getting the base of knowledge that earlier generations got - the history, geography, and basic english my mom and even i got in school. Not only do the teachers have to cover a specific 'curriculum' of subjects - but they also have to keep adding more and more things, without really adding the time needed to teach all that stuff. Stuff like gym and Drug & sex education, health, art, Music.


The school my mom attended in the 1930's had only 4 rooms and classes were mixed grades. it was common for a given kid to be in third grade reading, but 2nd grade math, etc. They did not have gym class - but they had sports teams. they didn't have music - but they had the church choir and piano lessons (if you could afford them). She was taught firm rules for grammar, methods for mathematics, and science that had totally changed by the time her kids came along.


My Brother and sister attended school in the 50's, and i came along in the 60's - the computer class I attended in college involved a huge machine that punched decks of cards.... in 1983! that wasn't so long ago! Now I carry a computer that fits in my pocket and has my entire troops records, a few novels to read and the organization of my entire life in it.


Makes you wonder how valuble rote information IS? history will always be history - you can always go back and read and learn about it, when necessary - but science, language, and even geography change so much in one lifetime, that you have to wonder how pertinant that information is. Now the emphasis is on learning HOW to learn - how to glean the most out of what you have access to and how to use it. Resourcefullness, management, organization - all of these are becoming more important than having an encyclopedia or dictionary in your head.


As for Schools and scouting - With an ADD/gifted child to deal with, i learned early on to give Jon lots of experiences, let him follow his explorations (while keeping a safety check on them) and let him MOVE. He thinks on his feet - collects and processes information with his entire body - hands, eyes, ears, motion - if he had to 'sit still & listen' - he would not absorb nearly as much as he does. God gave us 5 senses - why would someone try to learn using only sight and sound?


when I am out with any of the scouts, or when we have many of them in and out of our home as jon's friends - I try to do this with ALL the boys - let them try and experience as much as possible - rather than sit and watch passively. yeah - they make mistakes - but their interest in anything expands, and they retain so much more that way.

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The basics haven't changed. Arithmetic is still arithmetic and even calculus is calculus. Basic science hasn't changed much, there aren't any new natuarally occurring elements and F still equals ma. Geography? Well, maybe some borders have changed but the Atlantic ocean hasn't moved.


One of the greatest indicators that the education system is not doing its job is the need for high school students to take special classes to enable them to get decent scores on the SATs. If the schools were doing their job, these kids would know about analogies, have a decent vocabulary and be able to solve simple math problems without special prep.


How important is rote information? When your boss says that he wants you to go to France, it is important to know that it isn't in the next county.


(This message has been edited by Fat Old Guy)

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Nice post. You hit on a couple of great points.


I have questioned for a number of years the trend away from traditional teaching methods. As much as they sound warm and fuzzy, I think the evidence suggests something completely different. As you suggest, basic and advanced math, grammar, and science and geography skills have suffered tremendously, as well as something you left out, writing skills. This decline, in my view, has come at least parallel to, if not because of, these new teaching methods.


I do agree that some of these methods do a better job of providing the skills to think problems through, and for that reason, should not be abandoned completely. And I will certainly accept that some people learn best in environments different from others. You mention that some schools have changed to more modern techiques without regard for all of the students, and I a agree. I think that somehow, we need to provide each student with the methods that give them individually the best chance to suceed (at life, not "at school"). But I also wish schools would find a way to emphasize basic carriculum again. Because without the basics in English, Math and Science, the ability to think problems through is built on a house of cards.



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Not only does each child deserve the best education for him/her, but the law guarantees that! Yes, you have the right to get the best education for YOUR child. That is what Special Education is about. Anyone who has ever attended a Special Education meeting, most likly has been given a list of Parent's rights. One of those rights is that the school must provide the best environment for each child.


If you think back to your own education as a youngster, don't you rememember field trips and special projects better than anything else? I do. I remember 6th grade when we did radio plays -- we wrote the scripts, recorded special effects on the cassette tape player and then performed it behind a sheet for the rest of the class. There are many other similiar situations - the field trip to the coca-cola bottling plant, seeing the woman who watched the bottles go in front of a light and she looked for foriegn objects (at 9 years old i knew i didn't want that job).



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I have had this conversation with others, and no one has ever satisfied my couriosity.


On what part of the Consitution are the laws gauranteeing ANY education by the government, let alone the best education?


The right to which you allude is always spoken about as if it comes directly from the Constitution, but I have never been able to find that connection.


As a society, we have decided that it is in our best interest to educate youth. And anything worth doing is worth doing well. It is from this perspective that I agreed with the point Laura made that we ought to be provide the best education to every child we can. But I can't find anything to support that this is DUE anyone, and as such, I cringe when people press schools and governments to do so on the basis that there is a "right" to education. When special accomodations become beyond the means of a community, they should cease to be required.


I mean no offense, and I know this is an easy position for me to take because any problems my kids have in school are of their own making. But the hair on the back of my neck rises every time someone alludes to an "entitlement". We each have the right to pursue things like education on our own, but I have never seen a connection between this right and our current belief that we are entitled to an education.



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Some kids need to be in an empty room to listen to someone. Some have to move to listen; others have to sit still to focus; I used to put my ADD son in the lotus position and have him clear his mental chalkboard, then have him "write" his spelling words on it and read them back to me. Or sometimes he'd be in a headstand. Physical challenge helped mental discipline for him. Whatever works.


The "enriched" environment offered by a good teacher - pictures and posters on the wall, books all around, hamster on the shelf - for some children is far more compelling than anything she has to say. This isn't a bad thing, as long as the teacher understands and deals with it.


scoutmom - My other son was Spec Ed for emotional disturbance. In one of the last ARD's we attended, I was told that since his basic skills were above grade level, they had NO requirement to offer him work at his level. Since he refused to participate in the one-hour-a-week GT pullout program they declined to do anything else for him. OK, picture a little kid, a year younger than his grade level, walking out of the Level 5 Special Ed classroom to go to the GT program - ya think he might get TEASED just a little?


The spec ed teacher - with 7 students, 6 of them several grade levels below chrono age - did not have time to provide a challenging science, reading or history curriculum for him. So he wasted 2 years completing easy, dull worksheets in exchange for candy - and they considered that a great victory, having trained him to "do work."

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"So he wasted 2 years completing easy, dull worksheets in exchange for candy"


That actually sounds like the mainstream classes in my daughter's school.


"If you think back to your own education as a youngster, don't you rememember field trips and special projects better than anything else? I do."


I must be strange, I have a much clearer recollection of my arithmetic "facts" than I do of any field trip. When and where we went for field trips is fuzzy but I surely do know that one plus one equals two.

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FOG - not to be tactless, but yes, I think you must be strange. I most definitely remember field trips and special projects much better than my arithmetic facts. Actually, arithmetic facts are a persistent pain in the tush to me - even now I have to stop and think about them, they never did get to the automatic stage for me - but it didn't stop me from getting a degree in Chemistry (with a minor in mathematics.


The worksheet mentality is rampant, and for good reason - they are easily measurable, and keep the kids quiet. And for the 25% of the class that is EXACTLY at the level of the sheet, they promote learning. A big improvement could be had by self-pacing, allowing the speedy kids to forge ahead and the slower to keep pounding on whatever their personal sticking point is... but it's far harder for the teacher as the gaps can get quite wide pretty quickly. Children are just that different.


mk9750 - of course there is nothing in the constitution about public schools; the brilliant statesmen that wrote it were mostly self-educated. However, later developments caused the government to determine that it was in the country's best interest to educate everyone, and the public schools gained steam at around the same time the Industrial Revolution did. A cynical person could note that public school is excellent training for learning to accept that you should work long hours in a job you don't like very much, and for dampening any intellectual curiosity that might cause you to explore jobs that you MIGHT like.


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