Wednesday, October 10, 2007

09.18.07 response to class 3

Response to Class 2

As in the previous class, we discussed one of those perennial questions. That seems like it is going to be a constant throughout our course. The subject raised today had to do with individualized instruction, a Rousseau's idea that is still very popular today, especially considering the idea of the open school. Another discussing was about individualized attention to different learners. The idea that the teacher must know how to apply different methods to different learners because we can't separate(segregate) the children with disabilities.

A question raises from that one though. One of my classmates actually asked something I wanted to know - How do you give the child the individualized instruction? How do you find the time for that in a classroom? Shouldn't it be a better idea if these kids were just separated? Because for the teacher to apply all of the methods available for every different learner, he/she would need all time in the world.

There was a lot of input from the girls that do counseling. They are doing they practicum, and had a lot to say about the problems the children face. They mentioned that teachers don't take counselors very seriously, but that is probably because the teachers do have a hard time teaching the way things are, letting alone trying to adapt their teaching to individual children's needs.

In my personal opinion students with disabilities, or different abilities as the professor referred to them, should be separated into a different group. I do not think it is fair to the rest of the children that have the regular abilities, it is not fair to the children who have the disabilities and it is not fair to the teacher. It just makes everyone's work more complicated.

One of the girls that is doing counseling mentioned that you can not segregate. I wish I had asked her why. Because I don't know if that is her personal opinion or that is just what she is allowed to do. It does look like parents don't like to be told that their children have special needs. They just want the children to fit in with everyone else and I am not sure this works very well. They children will feel that they are different, because they generally need someone in the classroom with them. The other children might feel just that they are being left out because all the attention is being poured on the special needs children. And the teacher – I honestly would not like to be a teacher in a classroom in which I needed to be 10 different people at the same time in order to attend the need of every student in the best way possible.

It seems like dealing with children today is getting harder and harder. Parents will not take responsibility for the children's behavior and the school simply has to deal with it. One classmate mentioned that there was one little boy in her kindergarten group that had extreme anger issues and would not sit for class before he talked to his counselor. Someone else mentioned that a child can not be held back a year unless the parents allow that. Another classmate mentioned that she teaches in a private school and the system there is much different. Behavior problem children will simply not be tolerated. After all it is a private institution.

It seems to be the opinion of the professor that there is a constant struggle to try to balance emphasis on the social or on the academics. And the fat that was mentioned in class is that the more upper class the school is the less emphasis is put on the social and more on academics. The lower class school will usually have much more emphasis on the social. That is because they believe if a student has issues in his/her social life he/she will not be able to learn properly.

What would the solution be? Emphasize social or academic? Teacher hunch is focus on academic, even poor kids can learn. A couple of other students did mention having had a similar experience in their lives. The professor mentions of one experience he had in NYC , with poor kids that dropped out of school. They had a academy that would receive these students, believe that they could learn and accept the best from them – and they would do the best. I am not surprised. I think if the students see that the teacher is serious, they will take it seriously.

Another issue that rose was the reflective thinking that was actually the main theme of the text in discussion for that week. And then the teachers in class did start to wonder what reflective thinking was and when children would be ready for it.

A lot about reflective thinking was said. A classmate mentioned that we might be doing reflective thinking even when we decide if we'll have a salami sandwich or chicken. But someone else did emphasize there is a difference between that and “what is the meaning of life?”

I was at first thinking that children would not be ready for reflective thinking very early in their school carreers if reflective thinking meant to question the question. But we can teach students to investigate and find out meanings and make abstractions very early in life, as early as kindergarten – as you read a story you analyze it. This can be a training for reflective thinking. Then as they get older they will be able to question things. I think the reason why we could not figure out at what age children are ready for reflective thinking is that we could not establish that difference – in her/his younger years a child is trained to question by developing her/his analytical skills. Later on those skills will be used to question the question. To question meanings.

Another very interesting topic mentioned was the idea of working with children's abilities and working on them for the future. The Professor who considers himself a late (very late ) bloomer, questioned how early can we decide a child's ability and shut her out of every other possibility for life. The European curriculum specializes them since a very young age.

From the text discussion we could relate a lot from it to the class discussion.

Today our society shows disinterest and boredom where schools are concerned. Are we too focused on technology? Is it a bad thing or just a result from our changing times?

Dewey has this idea that everyone does not have the right to freedom, it is someone that we have to achieve it. We are taught that we have unalienable rights. Dewey thinks you should have to work for things.

In the foreword to Dewey's text, the writer brings up Dewey's frustration – teacher who don't like when students talk or when they are asking questions, they mark students answers wrong just because they are different from the text book.

Dewey will discuss the following question: “What is thinking?”

He gives ideas of reflective thinking – linking things together so that there is a purpose/goal. He says your thoughts are only a mental picture. Things you can constantly reconstruct. This is probably the reflective thinking that children are not ready to do. To reconstruct, to constantly doubt things the way they are – a feeling of discomfort is what Dewey says it leads us to reflective thinking – you are not happy with the way things are organized and needs to get somewhere – to be sure of what that is. Reflective thinking is something you could continuously question and doubt it. Reflective thinking is also part of democracy. Part of questioning the question.

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