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Old 01-23-2006, 06:31 PM   #46
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There was a study done, I will have to ask my mother for the details as she has a copy of the results somewhere, the conclusion of which was that immigrant children are absolutely slaughtering American (Canadian, British, etc) born anglophones when it comes even to disciplines like spelling, whereas before it was restricted more to mathematics and science.

From a personal perspective, I can tell you that as a poor refugee kid (I can literally use that tired cliche of "I escaped with the clothes on my back"), I had a hell of a lot more incentive than local kids here did. My brother and I both overachieved, not only because our parents pushed us but because we understood very well that our family had nothing, no money and no connections, and that the only way we'd make it in this world would be of our own merit. When you have no safety net, and you desperately want to join the middle class and have your kids have better lives than you did, that's a powerful motivator that kids from generations of middle or upper middle classes cannot comprehend on the same level.
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Old 01-23-2006, 06:37 PM   #47
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Many kids look for an "out" and parents give it to them.

For example, a number of times, our 11 year old has said he would like to drop piano lessons (he has studied for 7 years now). Instead of simply saying "No, you must continue," we explain (i) how far he has come in those 7 years, and (ii) how it has helped him in other areas (such as math). It would be far easier (and cheaper) to let him quit.
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Old 01-23-2006, 07:07 PM   #48
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however, what can happen is that all of these achievement tools can suck the joy out of each activity, everything becomes just another notch on the resume for applying to the same 20-or-so northeastern colleges that everyone else is trying to get into, and simply because you're carted from piano lessons to SAT class to hocky practice does not mean that you're actually learning to love any of it. i see lots of kids who are 18 and totally burned out -- they've been raised to be achievement machines and not people...
I think this is a very, very wise point. I do have some students who come from this sort of "soccer mom" culture you describe--though there's less of it here in the Midwest, and the competitive aspects are perhaps a bit less keen--and while they're certainly among my brightest and most capable students, they are often also among the least enthusiastic, and in *some* ways even the laziest. They will email me at all hours with sometimes comically anxious and anal questions about what EXACTLY I want for a specific assignment (which I find somewhat depressing, because taken cumulatively, it gives me the picture that meeting some empirical standard is their main goal). And I never have to sigh over the discrepancy between their ideas and their articulateness when grading, which is nice. But it seems they are never the ones who drop by my office to say Hey Dr S (my last name's a tonsil-splitter), I just wanted to talk to you about how fascinating all this stuff is and what some of my plans for using it in the future are and hear some more about what kind of directions other scholars and writers involved with these ideas are taking them in.

And I suspect, though I can't prove, that they are also among the most prone to quick-fix reliance on Google Scholar and the like when doing their research. I am constantly badgering the folks who teach freshman comp here with my stump speech about how they really need to make library skills, including academic database familiarity, a built-in component of their curriculum. It is really much harder than one might imagine for a professor to tell from a student's papers just how much research they really did: a good writer can come up with something quite worthy from a grading standpoint without actually reading very many outside resources, and if they can get away with A's for doing the minimum, many of them will. I know they are mostly only hurting themselves (though to some extent my profession's future, too) by doing this, but it makes me feel on some level like we've failed them if they graduate from college without proper respect for and love of research in its own right.

I imagine many of these feelings are shared in various different ways by, for example, swimming coaches and extracurricular activity advisors, too. We play soccer and basketball and hike with our kids, and they will all learn to swim (this is a religious obligation too, believe it or not--Talmud specifies that Jewish parents must see to it that their kids learn to swim, since it might someday save their lives or enable them to save another's). And when they get older, we will occasionally take them to town meetings and the like. But I would prefer that if they choose to pursue these things in a more regimented way later, then that would be because they personally love it and for no other reason, not because it pleases and impresses Mom and Dad or whoever else.

I hope when my kids get older there won't be grumbling about how observing Sabbath together means they can't be part of the many youth activities that take place on Saturday mornings and afternoons. Wasn't really an issue when and where I grew up.
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Old 01-23-2006, 07:44 PM   #49
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What country are you from originally anitram? You definitely have a point. I think in some cases it's not even personally experiencing poverty...like, for example, a lot of Asian immigrants have been very, very successful in a very short amount of time. I have Asian friends whose parents lived in public restrooms in China, yet by the time they were born in this country, they were richer than my family. But in general they tend to do really well in school because their parents drill the appreciation thing into their head, and because culturally there are such different expectations.

As far as the question about how involved parents need to be with high school students...it's always an added bonus to have parents that support you and encourage you, but at this point I think you really have to do it for yourself. A lot of kids really don't care, and a bunch more know they can scrape by without much effort and still get into a decent college and do fine in life (not a bad idea, sometimes I think I'm an idiot for being such an overachiever in f'ing high school! Maybe with the future of outsourcing it'll pay off.)

Personally, my dad read with me some when I was little, but for whatever reason it always came easily to me and I would do it on my own. I was just the type that could read chapter books before kindergarden, although my dad did make me feel really good about myself so that probably encouraged me. But my parents stopped telling me to do my homework in second grade (because I liked my homework in second grade and did it anyway! haha). One thing that my dad did that really helped me was to debate politics with me and make me feel like he took my opinion seriously, and most importantly helped me consider more than one angle. At age 10, I was sure Bush was evil, this was right before the 2000 elections. So my dad, who hasn't voted Republican since 1980, debated with me and literally reduced me to tears because he took Bush's "side" and made such a good case that I couldn't argue with a lot of his points.

I guess in that way my parents (well, my dad) have encouraged me to some extent. Although at the same time, in the last five years my parents have divorced/split up a few times, we've moved like 5 times (within the area), they've gone through a zillion jobs, a few overly expensive stays at rehab, lost the house, custody affidavits, the whole deal. I'm NOT saying that all situations are the same or that everyone that has some degree of a rough home life should just "suck it up." But it's not impossible to have less than a satisfactory family situation and still take it upon yourself to succeed. I guess my point is that ultimately high school students have to want to do well.

Also someone mentioned that there's not enough retention of skills and that we ought to have more review. Sorry, but are you kidding me?! Yeah, the logarithms can clog my brain to the point of forgetting how to divide occasionally...but SO much of the cirriculum every year is stuff we've been learning since the 3rd grade. I wish I had some stats/links, but I saw some report that compared the percentage of review vs new material (in the maths and sciences specifically) in the US compared to several Asian countries. It was a pretty significant gap. Sometimes I wonder if we'd do better if we were just challenged more and forced to care in order to pass.

I doubt this post makes any sense at this point, but I think it's some sort of mixture of students that really don't care (and see no reason to), and a school system that allows them to slide through with that attitude.
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Old 01-23-2006, 08:11 PM   #50
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I believe parental involvement is crucial no matter what age a student is. Education will not be important to a student if it is not important at home. If parents take the "Oh well, you are a young adult now, and its up to you to care about your education." many students will fail. I've heard too many parents say something like this. Making a phone call home and hearing that type of statement from a parent is awful.

Every year my district takes a school improvement day to look at the school "report cards" for the Chicagoland area. Many of the schools with high immigrant populations are "failing" schools. This is mainly due to language barriers.

anitram, you and your brother are a fantastic story of overcoming the odds. Studies show time and again that children living in poverty underachieve.
Many childern do not have the lower portion of Maslow's hierarchy of needs pyramid met. (ie, they worry about food, where they are staying, etc.)
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Old 01-23-2006, 08:23 PM   #51
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I guess in that way my parents (well, my dad) have encouraged me to some extent. Although at the same time, in the last five years my parents have divorced/split up a few times, we've moved like 5 times (within the area), they've gone through a zillion jobs, a few overly expensive stays at rehab, lost the house, custody affidavits, the whole deal. I'm NOT saying that all situations are the same or that everyone that has some degree of a rough home life should just "suck it up." But it's not impossible to have less than a satisfactory family situation and still take it upon yourself to succeed.
OK, forget what I said the other day about political science, because now I'm thinking maybe you would make a great counselor for situationally underprivileged kids! It is a credit to your heart as well as your mind that you remain able to recognize the good things that came out of your parents' example and and internalize it as a grounding to get you through all the other stuff.
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Old 01-23-2006, 08:58 PM   #52
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I have been asking parents to read with their children nightly. IT DOES NOT HAPPEN!!!!!!

ASk parents to get help children memorize thier basic facts...IT DOES NOT HAPPEN!!!!!

It starts in the elementary school. Give me students that have 1/2 the intelligence surrounded by a family with work ethic and I will show you success stories.

How many times in here have I mentioned that FATHERS are not doing their fucking jobs.

And it is showing more and more. Boys are falling further and further behind.....WHY?

On and on....

The best class I have ever had I had them for two years. I invested so much time in reading and basic facts inside the classroom I was able to make up the rest of the ground the following year and pass the more advanced students.

I had title one students score in the top 1% in the state in mathematics. But that is when they were mine for two years. I could invest the time, knowing that I had two years to work with them.
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Old 01-23-2006, 09:26 PM   #53
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I had title one students score in the top 1% in the state in mathematics. But that is when they were mine for two years. I could invest the time, knowing that I had two years to work with them.


this is very interesting. i've had a small amount of exposure to elementary level education, and i knew of one teacher who traveled with her class from kindergarten to first grade because it was such a good group, there was a chemistry between her and the kids (this was true, i was an aid in her class several times), and she felt like she had more to give. i think in elementary school, this is a very good idea. relationships with teachers is tremendously important -- i absolutely credit most if not all of my enjoyment of elementary school to my 2nd grade teacher, mr. peterson. firstly, it was nice having a man as a teacher. but he was also an excellent teacher, and he simply understood me as a student, he knew how to make me study and how to reward good studying. for example, i remember studying really hard for a spelling test and getting a 100. great. but i also spelled the hardest word on the test -- "massachusetts," as i distinctly remember -- correctly, and i can still see his small writing of the word excellent just above the letters at the end of the word, as if he knew i had the most trouble remembering the two 't's' at the end. it was a detail like that, probably possible only when a teacher really knows a student, that can make a big, big difference, especially when a child is young.

good point about fathers, too.
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Old 01-23-2006, 09:34 PM   #54
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All of this applies to the UK and Irish systems as well.

It's bigger than just school standards or the perennial private vs public schooling debate. Our society is comprehensively dumbing down.

I am not optimistic that these problems will be fixed.

We have a society predicated on instant gratification.
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Old 01-23-2006, 09:41 PM   #55
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yolland you are one of the sweetest people here. I didn't mean to sound melodramatic, everyone has to deal with stuff and obviously someone like anitram has overcome a whole lot more. They do do the best they can trust me, I'd feel bad saying I'm "situationally underprivelaged"

Dread, you're right...my younger brother is in 4th grade and although he's done better this year (he has a teacher that's great with him), he's had a ton of trouble with basic reading. My parents have been so busy & work late and that's no excuse, but no one really reads with him. My dad and I have read the first 5 Harry Potter books to him and he loves it, but he gets frustrated and can't focus when he tries to read things himself. In my earlier post I made it sound like it's all a matter of personal initiative but particularly for younger kids they really need parents to be involved.

I'm sure you're a great teacher...my brother would love you actually because he's already obsessed with American history. He recently informed me that the Revolutionary War is his "favorite war."
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Old 01-23-2006, 09:49 PM   #56
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There are studetns where the two year connection is not a good thing....

On a side note.....I was just asked tonight to be the sponsor for a child being confirmed. I had him in my class six years ago. I have had very few interactions with him since he left my classroom, but he asked my Priest to ask me to sponsor him.

Connection I did not know I had made....strange.
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:04 PM   #57
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The best class I have ever had I had them for two years. I invested so much time in reading and basic facts inside the classroom I was able to make up the rest of the ground the following year and pass the more advanced students.
Dread, are there any schools still out there that offer "alternative" programs like some schools had in the '70s, where three grades are put together in one classroom and children can more easily move back and forth between peers and curricula of different levels? I was briefly in such a program back in Mississippi (2nd-4th grades) before it went under, due to money issues as I recall, and while I can't speak to the pressures (and, I hope, opportunities as well) it imposed on the teachers, I personally found it to be by far the most academically stimulating school environment I was in prior to my late high school years. For sure there is nothing like it available where we live now.
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:28 PM   #58
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Interesting you should bring this up...

My daughter's school offers multi-age classrooms. There is a k-2 multiage room and a 3-5 multi ager room. We did not opt for it at the time. We may opt for it for my son because I think he is going to be well ahead of his kindergarten peers. The multi-age kindergarten would give him some running room to work at his level.

My daughter is an a looping classroom with the same teacher for the last two years. It was perfect for her.
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:35 PM   #59
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Huh, well that's cool. Not saying this is the case with your son necessarily, but I think it's interesting how having older siblings can really give some kids a boost in developing academic skills. I worked as a teacher aide at a nursery school in college, and was often struck by the leg-up kids with older brothers and sisters seemed to have in everything from writing their name to telling time to representational drawing to conversational skills.
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Old 01-24-2006, 05:39 PM   #60
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On a side note.....I was just asked tonight to be the sponsor for a child being confirmed. I had him in my class six years ago. I have had very few interactions with him since he left my classroom, but he asked my Priest to ask me to sponsor him.

Connection I did not know I had made....strange.
That's really cool!
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