As a recent graduate of St. Paul Central High School, I am familiar with many methods of teaching. One method is the process through which students are taught to get information off a piece of text then later regurgitate that information. For many years, this method has plagued our education system and as a result, has produced many students who do not analyze facts and figures well.
Being analytical is a skill that is essential for the growth of adolescents to adults. It allows students to question facts, assumptions and principles, a process that further develops their communication skills.
Often in school, I saw exactly the opposite. I noticed that many students did not question or ask for clarification on much of the information that was presented to us during school.
This educational method has an ally: The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. NCLB requires that all schools be judged on their ability to have students perform well on one high stakes test in math, reading, writing, and science. This requirement assures that teachers will feed information to students then expect them to regurgitate it on the NCLB test.
That’s why NCLB needs to be reformed. It entrenches what is arguably one of the worst methods of teaching into everyday classroom life.
I recently was talking to the students that I tutor, and I asked them what they felt they should have retained after sixth grade. Most came up with answers such as “algebra,” “the Holocaust,” and so on. These were good answers, but it was clear that many of the students didn’t understand how what they learn from year to year are pieces of a larger puzzle. They have become used to receiving information and spitting it out, not analyzing it and retaining it.
I feel this is something that must be corrected. NCLB must not be allowed to drive a teaching method that has been proven to produce undesirable results-students who feel they are receiving irrelevant information and teachers who see a loss of student participation in their classrooms.
We cannot afford to continue down a path that consistently leads to poor results. Minnesota’s teachers can do better than that and Minnesota’s children deserve the best education we can offer them. Isn’t that really what we should invest in?
DeShawn Woods is a Class of 2009 graduate of St. Paul Central High School.
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