Saturday, June 14, 2014

Boring Post for Saturday (helps if I spell the title correctly)

I used to "do" this feature and saved my most boring posts for Saturday.  These days, any day of the week is good enough for a boring post, I suppose.

This one is about education, a field I have worked in all of my life.

I have my Masters Degree.  In the program I was in, I only had to write the first 3 or 4 chapters of the  thesis and I didn't have to carry out the actual research.  As I recall, the thesis had to do with readers self-perceptions and their reading ability.  It was an interesting thought, but like most educational thesis statements, hard to prove or disprove and difficult research to carry out.

At one time I longed to carry it all forward and to attain my doctorate.  At 60, I feel that ship has sailed.  I have other things I want to do more than labor over some research in education and sit in classrooms with people young enough to be my grandchildren and to write papers.  I also thought that I had no idea what I would want to research.

The other day, when I was talking to my mom, it came to me, the topic I would research if I was getting a doctorate in education.  I would research the relationship between the desire of the learner to learn what the teacher is teaching and the achievement of that learner.  Learning is an unstated contract between the "provider" (the teacher) and the learner.  If the learner is opposed, uninterested, unwilling to learn, than that learner doesn't learn and often distracts everyone else.  I think that s why the "great" teachers of movies and legend and real life are great, because they can inspire almost everyone to want to learn what they are teaching. 

What I realized is that in today's world, perhaps more than at any other time in history, we have learners in schools who don't want to be there, have no desire to learn, and delight in taking everyone else down with them.  They spread their disinterest in learning like the measles in an unvaccinated population.  In the past these "troublemakers" would have been expelled from school, but with the demands of the No Child Left Behind, schools keep these problems.

The problem kids are increasing in numbers it seems to me.  Usually they come from foster homes, chaotic homes, have mental illness, depression, or other situations that would make anyone anxious, disinterested in learning.  There are few protections for children today.

If I were working toward a doctorate in education today, I would research the relationship between the learner's attitude and their achievement. Since I don't happen to be doing that, I offer it as an idea for someone to take up.  I would love to read a book about that rather than failing schools and failing teachers.  Teachers aren't magicians.  Or as my mom says--You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.


Jen said...

Wow, Mary, I would never call this a "boring" post. I would love to read more about the relationship between learner's desire to learn and achievement. I homeschool, and I can offer firsthand observations that there is a real correlation between feeling empowered about what they are learning and desire to learn.

I realize that it's impossible to allow traditional school students to help choose their curriculum, though there are ways to engage students more fully in the process and to give them some ownership of their education. However, NCLB and Common Core bind teachers' and administrators' hands so much they are unable to be creative in engaging and empowering students in their own education.

And that is just one reason why I homeschool.

Mary said...

Kids used to be motivated by parents expectations. Instead of motivating kids like my parents did me when I was in jr. high, "We expect better grades." The parents often yell at the teachers--"We expect better grades!"

This motivation problem isn't experienced by all or even most children, by any means. But the unmotivated ones can give everyone a bad day.

And SHHH, don't say the post isn't boring....that would mean I failed......Give me an A, give me an A!