Curriculum, which direction are we going?
It behooves teachers to plan carefully which objectives, learning opportunities, and appraisal procedures to emphasize in ongoing lessons and units of study. This is salient when helping each pupil to attain as optimally as possible.
Pupil Achievement in the School Setting
There are a plethora of what might be done to assist learners in making more optimal progress. A carefully planned program of current events, for example, is necessary for pupils to become involved citizens, presently as well as in the future. Ignorance is of little/no assistance in developing the whole person in gestalt psychology. The following current events items in terms of understanding and meaning need emphasizing:
* abortion and its implications
* same sex marriage
* LGBT rights
* climate change
* protection of other minority rights, including people of the Muslim faith
These current events items, when being discussed objectively, might bring on much emotion and feeling of pupils and parents. An informed, thoughtful teacher assists pupils to understand the implications of each. There may be objections raised by parents. Thus, teacher tenure is poignant. The goal of tenure for teachers is to protect them from indiscriminate firings. There must be just cause for dismissal and not to protect inept teachers. Teachers need this protection in order to teach well, especially if the content to be taught is controversial. When tenure is taken away, the cause usually is conservative in nature in wanting to implement a right to work philosophy with no protections as is true of many supply side jobs and positions in the economic world. This can be very hurtful as was true of a friend of mine who in his 28th your of employment as an accountant was abruptly fired, verbally, without reason given. There was no severance pay to tide over until the next job was located. With union protection, a strong force of highly competent, conscientious teachers is necessary to provide for more optimal achievement of each pupil.
* teacher salaries are low and may well fail to attract the best of teachers. An average annual salary of $35,000 for a beginning teacher is hardly conducive as a motivator to purchase needed goods and services. Add to this amount is debt accumulated from working in securing a Baccalaureate degree (BSE), necessary for teaching in the public schools. The debt varies, according to the university attended, and might well be $40,000. This economic situation brings on worry and concern in meeting expenses for living and for paying on the university loan. Rather, the time might well be spent on preparation for teaching and inservice education, among other factors needed to improve the curriculum. It behooves the local district and state to raise teacher salaries in order to provide for high quality pupil education.
* equity factors are urgent in addressing. Minority groups need to achieve as optimally as possible along with the white population. Each person is important and must experience the best in objectives of instruction, learning opportunities, and valid/reliable appraisal procedures. Why does a state promote schools of inferior quality whereas others have an abundance of resources. This does not harmonize with tenets of democracy as a way of life. For poor districts, along with a fair property tax, the state must pitch in with needed monies for supplies, payroll, and equipment. Teachers cannot do it alone in achieving equity among learners in the school setting. Inequities in taxing occurs when selected corporations pay no income tax even though they have been highly prosperous. Income tax paid on a graduated basis is the most just way of taxing, but too frequently, poor families pay an inordinate rate of paying taxes with states and districts emphasizing the sales tax to finance the costs of education. Conservatives stress the saliency of adopting the fiat tax whereby each person pays the same per cent when buying goods and services. If the flat tax is emphasized only, the cost for making purchases could be as high as 20%. This is a regressive tax since all levels of income would pay the same per cent in purchase made. With a graduated income tax, individuals pay a certain per cent, based on the total amount of money earned in a given year. Too frequently, an excess number of deductions are made, legally or illegally, greatly lowering the amount in income tax to be paid by upper income people. It is costly to have high quality schools, good roads and bridges, as well as adequate fire and police protection. All of these items must be paid for in due time.
* to make up for differences in achievement among diverse groups, schools must provide a good summer school which should assist in achieving equity. Teachers, here, must be known for being good at assisting high learner achievement in an atmosphere of respect. Nourishing meals need to be served to participants in the summer school. With 30% of pupils living in poverty, there have been cases of hunger, even within a land of great surpluses. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone going hungry and living in a slum, low income neighborhood. Add to this, a homeless population, and there is small wonder that inequities in achievement is on the stage.
Two schools, for example in Illinois, located twenty miles apart provide a good example. School A has five different spaces for theater performances, two gyms, an Olympic pool, as well as an Expresso Bar. They spend 18,800 per pupil annually. School B spends $ 12,000 annually per pupil and their school band practices in the hallway; basketball, with no indoor court, is played in the out of doors. Approximately 28 pupils share a single computer. In the recent recession, selected schools in poor areas were especially hit hard, relying on state monies with little coming in from local sources. There may not be enough money to cover maintenance costs of facilities. The district is made up of 95% minority groups. The gap widens between the haves and the have nots. Each pupil needs an education which prepares for college, career, and civic life. A positive curriculum must be available for each learner which
1. attempts to make up for past environmental deficiencies
2. assists learners to progress sequentially in the curriculum
3. guides pupils to become proficient in the identification and solving of problems as well as becoming proficient in critical and creative thinking
4. assists pupils to do well in social development and emotional learning
5. attempts to help pupils evaluate themselves to improve achievement.
The time is short in developing the pupil to achieve adult status, after graduating from high school, when increased freedom for independence is in the offing. Wise decisions must be made so that a well adjusted person enters higher education or the work place as well as being a productive member in society. Boosting achievement for pupils from low income levels, in particular, would assist in developing readiness for the primary grade levels. Thus, preschool with quality educational experiences provided by licensed teachers should aid in ameliorating deficiencies in poor quality homes.
* a stimulating school and classroom environment must be in the offing in which learners feel motivated to do their very best in ongoing activities and experiences. Interruptions and disruptions hinder progress. Pupils need help in disciplining the self as well as respecting other learners and the teacher. There are times when teachers work under the most difficult situations with little or no help available to nurture a positive learning environment. Principals and supervisors must pitch in and assist with discipline problems. Otherwise children might be robbed of receiving a good education. The environment must be such that the teacher can teach and pupils can learn. Sometimes, principals are very critical of a teacher's classroom discipline, but do nothing to assist in achieving a more humane environment. Disrespectful statements, rudeness, and put downs need elimination. With principal/supervisor assistance, the classroom teacher may then become more proficient in aiding learner achievement. It must be remembered that all kinds of pupils are required to attend school. The future inmate as well as the very high achiever will be in the classroom. The teacher cannot shun, nor walk away, from even highly disrespectful pupils, It behooves the school to work for quality behavior among pupils and the teacher so that a positive future is available for all! Pupils learn nefarious or good behaviors from a quality as well as a disrespectful environment. Enforced rules of conduct emphasize "the good" in all endeavors. Thirty three pupils in a small classroom will not cut it!
There are numerous factors involved in good teaching which meet pupil needs. The writer has touched upon a few of these when assisting in improving the curriculum. Many more could be discussed including inservice education which is truly worthwhile for all teachers to make for a more satisfying life.
Ediger, Marlow, and D. Bhaskara Rao (2014), Essays in School Curriculum. New Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing House.
Ediger, Marlow (2016), Teaching the New Social Studies, College Student Journal, 50 (2), 275-277.
MARLOW EDIGER, PROFESSOR EMERITUS
Truman State University
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|Date:||Sep 22, 2017|
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