I spent my first six years of education in a new concept school in Canada. We did not have desks, and we did not have many walls. Classes were mixed grades with the idea that children learn at different speeds, so cross grading based on knowledge would be a good idea.
I had a lovely first six years playing, doing art, and acting in school plays. I did learn to read, but I believe that was my own impelling desire to know more than good educators.
What I didn't learn were the basics of the English language. Nouns, verbs, adverbs, sentence structure and punctuation – it is all a mystery to me. Nor did I learn basic math. When I hit grade 7 and was mainstreamed into a regular curriculum I was hit by how much I didn't know. I was however, bright enough to get by and managed to make it through the rest of school with fairly good marks.
I took an English course at local college when I was 20 to try to fill in the gaps, and learned long division when I was about 24. Unbelievable! I am still learning and trying hard to catch up on what I missed.
I hope I did better with my children, they went to regular public school and I was very involved in the day-to-day events in the school. The curriculum taught whole word reading though and I knew I had to jump in and fix that, so at home we learned phonics.
Both my children are excellent readers. I believe if you can read and comprehend what you read then you can learn anything, and you can do anything. Reading is the foundation for which everything else is built upon.
With budget cuts in the school system and over stressed teachers with classes of 30 or more, they are faced with an impossible challenge. Today’s children are institutionalized from infancy in daycares and when they hit school age a great many of them have social and emotional problems that are beyond the scope of the teacher. Consequently today’s children are not only being taught to the test, but also the lowest common denominator in the class. If the teacher has to spend a great deal of her day trying to keep control of the 8 or 9 discipline challenges then when is there time for teaching to the children that are hungry for knowledge? The high end student is suppressed, and is often put in the position of “helping” those less advanced.
And so we turn our heads to our government leaders as they hold the purse strings and education is definitely not at the top of the list. Shameful!
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