Monday, February 26, 2007

High School Reform, Part II

Following please find my proposed initiatives for high school reform:

A) Focus on excellence in a few areas rather than mediocrity in multiplicity. As C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Surprised by Joy, "...the greatest service we can do to education today is to teach fewer subjects. No one has time to do more than a very few things well before he is twenty and when we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life." Let's start with simply Reading, Writing, and Mathematics.

B) Improve teacher salaries and, by doing this, recruit youthful, competent, forward-thinking, relational instructors who will inspire and motivate students. On the flip side, fire incompetent, emotional, unprofessional, old-fashioned basket cases as quickly as possible.

C) Shorten the school day and provide for extra-curricular and out-of-the-box learning experiences. 8-2 (or similar hours) seems much too long and rigid a schedule. Partner with businesses, non-profit organizations, and higher education institutions to offer students opportunities to contribute to the world and to learn from adults.

D) Shorten the number of years it takes to obtain a high school diploma OR make the four years that are required more valuable. As it stands now, four years is much too long. Students become restless and uncertain. They long to make a difference in their world in bigger ways - why not let them?

E) Globalize the learning experience. Expose students to cross-cultural experiences through study abroad, foreign language study, and school-sponsored trips (particularly those that are charity-based).

F) Modernize the methodology of instruction. Throw out outdated texts, uncomfortable desks, and chalkboards. Add laptops, top-of-the-line software, wi-fi, classrooms with a view or outdoor classrooms, utilize podcasts and blogs, etc.

G) Decrease class sizes. Studies continuously show that students do better in smaller groups where teachers can provide individualized attention and care.

H) Raise expectations for students. Make dress codes stricter or require uniforms. Expect students to achieve excellence in reading, writing, and mathematics. Kick students out who disrupt the learning environment and refuse to learn time and time again.

That's just a start - and I realize the ideas outlined here are highly controversial and difficult to implement. Still, we must focus on what is best for kids.

I look forward to reading your comments.

1 comment:

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