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Talking about the Quality of Teaching, Curriculum


Our recent chat on edweek.org, "Student Academic Pressure: Too Much or Too Little?," prompted hundreds of questions and comments that showcased how differently educators, researchers, policymakers, and parents view this issue. Many think today's students are overburdened with academic work both in school and at home, while many others believe today's students are not held to high standards and have a questionable work ethic.

Whatever their opinion on that question, one theme that resonated within this chat is that the type and quality of teaching and curriculum in U.S. schools needs to be improved. "It's not whether students have too little/too much pressure," said one chat participant, taking issue with the title of the chat. "It's whether the pedagogy is sound and the material developmentally appropriate."

Undoubtedly, many chat participants argued, poor to mediocre teaching combined with poor to mediocre curricula is a recipe for creating unmotivated students who see little value in what they are being taught. And if they see little value in what they are learning, how can you expect them to maintain a strong work ethic in their classes?

The question I have is: What percentage of schools do you think fall into the category of having poor to mediocre teaching and poor to mediocre curricula? And of those that do, what should be done to improve those schools?


Perhaps there needs to be a survey or some kind of evaluative tool to ascertain the extent to which this is true or not. I do believe however that the relevance ot education for the average students is out of sync with the requirements of their world. We are not necessarily preparing our student to be socially productive but seemed preoccupied with fulfilling our own fantasies about the kind of education we wanted in our time. Whot has a thought about this theory?

It appears teachers are burnt out, are not connecting with their students or wish they could teach gifted students. What should be done? The classes my child has enjoyed most has been one's in which the teacher had some flexibility in less important areas of the lesson. For example, when practicing composition she did not mind that my child wanted to write about something that was not on the list of topics. The main idea of the lesson was well composed sentences and coherent paragraphs.

In World History, the teacher had discussions that allowed input. The rule was that each person brings differnt insight to the discussion and all input had to be supported. In other words, no wrong answers, just prove it (or support your analysis. He allowed for each student to bring their perspective to the lessons they discussed.
That worked with Math. If the answer did not match the answer sheet, the teacher asked the student to show what they did and if the student needed to have simplified an answer more and did did not understand to do so initially, it became a learning experience. Testing should be a learning experience an opportunity to commit lessons to memory. Questions should be worded so that it drives the point of the lesson even more. Ever take a test and you came out wondering even more if you really understood the lesson or not? Good test questions reinforce learning and motivation to think and learn.

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