Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Words of Wisdom ~ 10 Rules for Life and a Rant about Education

Hello dear friends! Welcome to Natasha in Oz.

Just a quick word of warning...this post is not full of decorating ideas, recipes or pretty pictures! I'm getting on my soapbox today and I'm having a good old-fashioned rant!

Today's Words of Wisdom come from education reformer Charles J. Sykes, best known as the author of Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves, but Can't Read, Write, or Add.  In his book, he examines how the education "system" has created a generation of kids with no concept of reality which will then ultimately set them up for failure in the real world.

This book is "A scathing critique that grabs America's educational establishment by the scruff and shakes it...Parents and visionary educators, if not educrats, should sit up and take notice." --"Kirkus Review"

Words of Wisdom from education reformer Charles J. Sykes
Even though this book was published in 1995 the ideas in it are certainly not out of date. Despite the book being a critique of American schools and the American education system I believe it address issues that affect students here in Australia and all around the world.

"Dumbing Down Our Kids" is a searing indictment of America's secondary schools-one that every parent and teacher should read. "Dumbing Down Our Kids "offers a full-scale investigation of "Outcome Based Education" -the latest in a long series of "reforms" that has eroded our schools. Why our kids rank to, or at the bottom of international tests in math and science . Why "self-esteem" has supplanted grades and genuine achievements -How the educational establishment lowers standards and quality in our schools-while continuing to raise their budgets and our school taxes -The dumbing down of the curriculum so everyone can pass-but no one excel -How parents, students, and teachers can evaluate schools and restore quality learning. www.bookdepository.co.uk

In a nutshell, Dumbing Down Our Kids investigates educational fads and failed reforms over the last 80 years, in particular one known as "Outcome Based Education", a system where students repeat material and tests until they get the right 'outcome', a system that I think has irreparably damaged a whole generation of students. Sykes believes not enough time is spent on actual learning and studying, the curriculum is watered down and that instead of teaching kids to read, write and communicate effectively, schools are inflating the self esteem of students by not requiring any real work or mastery and by praising mediocrity.

Now, I'm all for praising kids when they do well and encouraging them to do their best but I also have no problem telling my kids that they will fail if they don't study, that life isn't all fun and games and that everyone can't be the winner. I think it's important for kids to know how to spell, to learn about other cultures, to study and sit exams and, if necessary, to fail. At least they will learn that failure is a part of life and that in the long run trying harder and finding a new course of action can be an enlightening and fulfilling experience.

So, today I would like to share Sykes' Rules for Life, the first of which is Life is not fair—get used to it! This list actually began making the email rounds under Bill Gates' name in February 2000, and has continued to do so ever since. This pared-down version of an op-ed piece appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune on September 19, 1996 and was specifically written for high school and college graduates.

Words of Wisdom from education reformer Charles J. Sykes

I'm sorry I'm not being my usual up-beat self today but as an educator myself I am becoming increasingly troubled by the politicising of educational reforms. What really bothers me about education these days is that the education one receives depends largely on politics. Politicians use education platforms to get elected but they seem to have very little knowledge of how the educational system really works. They seem to base their reforms on what they think is 'right' for their constituents and stakeholders rather than what is best for students in the highly competitive and globalized 'real world' we live in. They then make said reforms but, as soon as a new government is elected, 'new and improved' reforms are ushered in and we have to start all over again!

I just hope that one day we will learn from past mistakes and allow our teachers to get on with the job of teaching our precious children rather than following the whims of politicians and their educational 'fads'. 

Thanks for stopping by and for letting me get on my soapbox; I promise that I'll be back to regular programming with a delicious cookie recipe next time you visit!

Best wishes always,
Natasha In Oz 
Please join me each weekend for the Say G'day Saturday Linky Party!
You can also visit me at PINTEREST, TWITTER


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...