Blog Post

Concerning Critical Pedagogy

I feel the primary effort of education is focused on tests scores and forming a reputation for the institution. Not all educational systems are like this, but I, as well as those who have been in a modern high school, have experienced being the brunt of forced standardized testing. One must score perfectly or near perfect on a test to get into a prestigious school, or even be accepted to some post-secondary schools. So much stress is being put on adolescents to score and to make the institution one of the best.

To humanize the curricula and syllabi, the students must be humanized. We are not just a number or a receptacle for biased or parroted information to be passed through. Students should be able to voice their opinions and have an equal or higher role in a school system.

To spark creativity and inquiry in adolescents, or even adults, the instructor must have the same excitement for the subject and have a variety of tools to facilitate discovery. Many teachers are restricted by the government or other authorities and may not be able to teach the way they’d like. Authentic thinking in the classroom and business should be fostered by physical evidence; by logical thinking.

In “From all the Jails the Boys and Girls,” Emily Dickinson speaks of the temporary relief children have from school during their break time. Much like prison, inmates get a certain time to walk around the yard and eventually they have to go back in their cells and serve their sentences. Students have been sentenced to 13 plus years in an educational system that feels a lot like a prison. Education should make people comfortable; not intimidated or depressed.

 

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12 comments

What a great blog post!   I'm so happy to be reminded of the amazing Dickinson poem.I think I was in high school when I first encountered it and felt Emily was a kindred spirit.  If my life had been determined by a score on a standardized test, I would not be an educator.  One imagines Emily wouldn't have done very well on the "which is the best answer from these five"---she "dwelt in possibility," and her possibilities were endless.

 

So are yours!  Thanks so much for posting such a thoughtful piece.  I'll tweet it out to about 10K people now, and will include the Dickinson poem since she did not write to be copy righted.  Good luck with your work!

 

 

From all the Jails the Boys and Girls

By Emily Dickinson

From all the Jails the Boys and Girls
Ecstatically leap—
Beloved only Afternoon
That Prison doesn’t keep

They storm the Earth and stun the Air,
A Mob of solid Bliss—
Alas—that Frowns should lie in wait
For such a Foe as this—

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I am doing research on kids with ADD/ADHD and how it affects them in the classroom. I have found that kids with ADD/ADHD have a much harder time then people without ADD/ADHD. For example kids who have ADD/ADHD on average receive lower average marks, more failed grades, more explosions, increased dropout rates, doesn’t pay attention to details, makes carless mistakes, frequently loses or misplaces homework books or toys, gets bored with tasks before there done, has difficulty remembering things, appears to not listen, and a lower rate of college undergraduate completion. In comparison to kids who don’t have ADD/ADHD.

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Anna stated that an instructor  must have excitement for what they are teaching. I feel that a lot is required from an educator in order to properly educate students. Through both my personal experience and research; I have discovered that teachers often have to modify their teaching strategies to accompany students that suffer from learning disorders. Educators often have to come up with new ways to be creative in the classroom and have more involvement with students. Teachers often have to set extra time aside for children with learning disabilities so that they can make a students learning experience the best it can be.

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Anna stated that an instructor  must have excitement for what they are teaching. I feel that a lot is required from an educator in order to properly educate students. Through both my personal experience and research; I have discovered that teachers often have to modify their teaching strategies to accompany students that suffer from learning disorders. Educators often have to come up with new ways to be creative in the classroom and have more involvement with students. Teachers often have to set extra time aside for children with learning disabilities so that they can make a students learning experience the best it can be.

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Anna stated that an instructor  must have excitement for what they are teaching. I feel that a lot is required from an educator in order to properly educate students. Through both my personal experience and research; I have discovered that teachers often have to modify their teaching strategies to accompany students that suffer from learning disorders. Educators often have to come up with new ways to be creative in the classroom and have more involvement with students. Teachers often have to set extra time aside for children with learning disabilities so that they can make a students learning experience the best it can be.

Strategies such as standardized testings do not work well with any student and childen with learning disabilities such as ADHD often need extra time to complete assignments and test. Kids who struggle with learning disabilities often have trouble paying attention in a classroom enviornment, it becomes that much more difficult for them to pay attention when a teacher does not incoporate discussion into the classroom. Many students spend the majority of their time in the classroom, so it is extremely important that the time spend in the classroom is pleasent for the learner. It is important for school to not just be challenging but rewarding at the same time. It is a teachers responability to recognize their role in a students life. The memorization meathod rather than a child learning material and applying, does not further children in their education and it puts them at a disadvantage by giving them the false belief that they are infact learning.

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I couldn't agree more with this post. especially the paragraph on standardized testing along witht the teacher characteritics helping student success. As a product of the kingergarden through twelve schooling system, I can relate to first hand experience with standardized testing and the different teaching styles we commonly see today. In my opinion, standardized testing should be eliminated when it comes to applying for schools, but instead used to place students in classes that fit their level of intelligence. When it comes to teachers I've been through it all, from the powerpoint lectures to the passionte ones who really care for their students. Without care from the teacher, it makes it almost impossible for the student to learn the subject and take thier knowledge to lead them to success in the future. 

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I couldn't agree more with this post. Especially the paragraph on standardized testing along with the teacher characteristics helping student success. As a product of the kindergarten through twelve schooling system, I can relate to first hand experience with standardized testing and the different teaching styles we commonly see today. In my opinion, standardized testing should be eliminated when it comes to applying for schools, but instead used to place students in classes that fit their level of intelligence. Judging a student from a stressful, timed test seems unethical. A students future should not be decided from a test score, but instead their accumulative GPA and work outside of the classroom. Using a their test scores to rightly place certain students in more challenging classes should be the correct use of the standardized testing, that way, the high scoring students will become more challenged, which will ultimately lead to success in the future. When it comes to teachers I've been through it all, from the power point lectures to the passionate ones who really care for their students. Personally, I’ve had previous trouble dealing with teachers who commonly read off of power point slides with little enthusiasm. Teachers who bring a different teaching style to class and get the students involved are often more popular among students, which leads to more care in the classroom and better grades. Without care from the teacher, it makes it almost impossible for the student to learn the subject and take their knowledge to lead them to success in the future.

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Anna mentioned the stress involved with standardized testing. In my research, I used information learned about psychology look further into the stress student’s face during testing. Students face stress in many areas of their life, and all too often and school is the biggest contributor to that stress. Students often try to memorize the answers for these tests, and employ specialized testing techniques, instead of actually learning the material. To further add to student stress, the scores from these tests can have a significant impact on their plans for college and potentially future employment. They want to get that perfect score and will try to get it regardless of the method used and whether they actually learned something about the test subjects. These tests require many hours of studying and preparation, which for already busy students, can add additional stress. The financial requirement of school is yet another area of potential stress. Students that are required to work while taking classes, and complete their full course load, may find a third requirement of test preparation highly stressful. Testing the students in another way could reduce the amount of stress students feel not only throughout their normal life and school activities, but also during the test preparation process. There should be different ways to test a student’s knowledge and ability to succeed in college that are less stressful to prepare for, but still allow for accurate assessment by college admissions staff.

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      I really enjoyed reading this posting for many reasons. Anna you just about nailed it on the head with all of your information. Students feel very pressured when it comes to testing in schools. We feel that we have to do our absolute best or else, we have failed. Effort is key of course, and we must give effort to succeed. Experiencing failure is acceptable, and everyone experiences it throughout their lives. Standarized testing in schools such as the ACT is said to determine our futures. This much pressure should not be put on students, a silly test should not determine our lives. I also agree with what Alexander said about the testing. Instead of taking a test score to determine our future. Schools should be looking at our GPA and schoolwork, along with extracurricular activites. Some students do not do very well on tests, not because they are not smart; but because they get nervous and feel pressured. Feeling that way while taking a test will definitely affect the way you perform. I do believe that everyone performs differently while testing, some are great testers and others just can not handle it. Getting rid of standarized testing will take the pressure off of the students and they will perform more adequately. Teachers are also a major part on how students perform. Giving students a feeling of safety and confidence from the teacher, will help them produce better work. I personally have experienced all types of different teaching mechanisms. I have found myself performing better when the teacher shows that they care and are interested in my success. The school system and the way of teaching students should be modified. Taking the students into full consideration and helping them perform the best they possibly can. 

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Anna I agree with you that the educational system feels like prison. So much stress is put on you to do good so you can get into a prestigious school so you can get a good job. What I noticed while in high school is that this system is broken. This system makes students only focus on getting the grade and getting the A and moving on. When a student would receive an assignment that had a passage to read and questions to answer afterwards, students would just look through the passage for the answers, but not actually read the material. This is what standardized tests are teaching students. Get the highest grade possible and move on. In the process of doing this students aren’t actually learning the material. We are more memorizing it for that one test and then forgetting about it the next week. My chemistry teacher constantly complained about how she wished grades could be taken out and she could teach us for the purpose of learning and not just to hand out grades. She couldn’t do anything about it because it has been like this for the longest. As we proceed in the future classrooms need to be more engaging and formed in a way to where there is room for discussion about the subject. In doing this students will learn to be more enthusiastic about the subject and want to actually learn about it. I’ve had teachers who have tried to incorporate this style in the past, but complain that students aren’t opening up and discussing the subject. It’s going to take time because when students are used to one style of teaching all of their educational careers it can be hard to get used to this style of teaching. If students are taught to be engaged in the material from the beginning and it’s consistent throughout their educational careers then students will be more used to the discussion type of classroom. Some of this is on the teacher’s part to be enthusiastic about their work because if they don’t have enthusiasm on what they are teaching how can they expect students to be receptive to it. 

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I would say that most students today would agree with everything you are saying in this post.

I really liked what you said about the roll of the teacher within the classroom. When a teacher is enthusiastic and passionate about what they are teaching it has a big effect on the students. If someone is supporting you and saying that you can do it, there is a greater chance that you are going to be motivated to want to do well.Teacher should try to keep a positive attitude about what they are teaching because of the way it rubs off on students. But teachers are forced to accommodate to a lot of different things like the way each individual student learns. They should have a larger variety of teaching techniques within their classroom to try to meet their students needs. All students learn differently, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Some students do not test well, even when they know the content they struggle with standardized testing simply because it is not fitted to their learning style. That is why I believe schools should not put such a huge stress on test scores, like you said they should not determine our whole future. For example when applying to universities you might have a good enough GPA to be accepted to a certain school but just because your test score is not up to their standards there could be a high chance that you might not get accepted to that school. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses we should try to play upon our strengths versus putting all of our attention on our weaknesses.

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In the first part of your blog you mentioned about how your test scores affect your chances for getting into a school. Some people are just not good test takers and with the stress of not being a good test taker you get more stressed because you would need a good score to get to where ever you need to go. This doesn’t mean you aren’t smart you just have to change what you do. There was one of my favorite teachers in high school that understood how our minds think. We can only focus for so long before we start to daze off and lose interest. This teacher would let us take a break in the middle of class even though it was just a fifty-minute class. This helped a lot in the class so you can digest what you just were taught and usually during the time she had us think about some interesting things we thought about the topic. The way of this teaching helped out but having us think about information and we can retain it better and easier so when it came to the test we would know mostly everything. This was our break time and it gave us a little relief. All of us students couldn’t wait for this break to relax for a minute. Most teachers didn’t believe in what she did with every class but if more teachers would have done this I think more kids would have higher test scores and get into things that the students want to get into which will also lead to less stress for the students.

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