Newsweek, which doesn’t have a great track record showing good judgment in education issues (see Did You Know That THE Key To Saving American Education Is Firing Bad Teachers?), has now published a guide on How to Close the Achievement Gap.
It highlights some good ideas, like increasing quality pre-school education and learning from the Finland school system.
I’m less than thrilled, however, with its lifting-up KIPP charter schools as a model we should try to emulate, without recognizing the issue of “creaming” (see Charter Schools and “Creaming” and Insightful Critique Of KIPP Schools).
I also had some questions about their praise of Singapore’s school system and how they trains and treat their teachers, just because I don’t know anything about how they do it. If readers have some more knowledge about it, please share it in the comments section.
One statement in the article, though, bothered me more than any other — it claims that ten is “the age at which failure starts to become irreversible” (though it doesn’t cite any source for that claim — again, if readers have some knowledge I hope they’ll share it in the comments section).
I wrote about my feelings related to this topic in a previous post titled Believing That Every Student Can Succeed Academically. Here is one portion of that post:
Many of the students at our inner-city high school have huge challenges — not having a home situation that can provide many educational enrichment activities; lack of health insurance; unstable family life; self-control issues; gangs; English as their second language, etc.
But, though they might have a long list of deficits, they also have many assets — their potential; their life experiences; their resiliency.
And here’s another excerpt:
I agree with Richard Rothstein, who writes that we can only narrow, not bridge, the achievement gap without public policies that will impact the problems outside the schoolhouse doors that affect student learning. And there are some days when I come home feeling emotionally-drained and wonder what it might be like teaching at a suburban school. And there are students who — for one reason or another — I am not able to reach during an entire school year, and have hopes that some other teacher will down the line.
But those days and disappointments are more than off-set by the successes I see — the students who had never read a book before and now are doing so regularly; the ones who are able to develop their own capacity for self-control and discipline; the boys and girls (and young men and young women) who go on to college after telling me in ninth-grade that they don’t need to work on their writing because they would never need it as a professional skateboarder or professional basketball player.
Does failure really “start to become irreversible” at age ten?