Education News Roundup
New Study Backs Academic Rigor for Preschoolers. Oh, Please; from the Washington Post:
Solving the Mystery of Underachievement; from The Atlantic
A new study finds that preschool classrooms — those in which teachers provide “high doses” of activities “emphasizing language, preliteracy and math concepts” — give “positive” academic benefits to children as measured by standardized tests, and that black students generally get a bigger boost than others. Think flashcards.Next to kindergarten via Business Insider: I've been in education for 20 years, and there's a disturbing trend afoot in kindergartens around the US
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early-childhood-development expert, recently wrote:
We have decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tell us that young children learn actively — they have to move, use their senses, get their hands on things, interact with other kids and teachers, create, invent. But in this twisted time, young children starting public pre-K at the age of 4 are expected to learn through “rigorous instruction.”
When I asked the teacher, who I interviewed for the short film, why she covered so much material in a few hours, she stated, "There's pressure on me and the kids to perform at a higher level academically."To teenagers from Singularity University, 6 Tips on the Future of Learning from Actual Teenage Exponential Thinkers
So even though the teacher admitted that the workload on kindergartners was an awful lot, she also said she was unable to do anything about changing it.
- The first thing that became very clear during our conversation was that our group of “Generation Me” millennials expect their learning to be highly personalized. It should be “my choice” to pursue “my interests” at “my pace,” they argued. Although this may at first sound childish, these demands are far from selfish. Why? Because personalization is necessary to compete in today’s intricately specialized world.
- With 4.7 billion pages of information available on the web, the biggest challenge to students today is in developing the skills to navigate, assess, and synthesize information.
- We expected excitement when we asked the group about online learning. Instead we heard this: “online Learning is NOT the answer.” The teens told us online courses are “great for educated specialists” but don’t cater to beginners. They cited a lack of time to complete online coursework and internet connectivity issues faced by many schools as additional issues.
- Students still want great teachers. The role of the educator, however, is shifting from an individual who delivers facts to that of a guide who can help learners navigate a vast maze of information. Our teens wanted to interact with adults who are relatable, knowledgeable and inspiring.
- The teens told us they value traditional subject matter, but opportunities to build more practical skills were lacking. Interest in learning more about money management and soft skill development — like teamwork, problem solving and conflict resolution — was mentioned multiple times.
- Finally, we landed on our biggest question: What is the purpose of all this learning, anyway? Their answer: education should “make people confident in their ability to learn anything.”Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls this a “growth mindset.” In her words, this is “the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems.”
Solving the Mystery of Underachievement; from The Atlantic
As enrollment in higher education reaches record-levels-69.7 percent of all high-school graduates in 2016, a hidden danger awaits thousands at the starting line: Being "eligible" for college admission doesn't mean that students are academically prepared. This collision of expectations and reality creates a revolving door in higher education that can stifle individual talent and exacerbate inequality at the highest levels of the American education system. This is the story of how Travis Hill, growing up blocks from the White House in northeast Washington, D.C., learned what “college readiness” means when the pursuit of higher education becomes a reality.
Over the course of a decade, beginning with two years as a classroom teacher followed by doctoral work in sociology at Princeton University, I witnessed a significant number of students develop a sophisticated logic of underachievement that challenged popular accounts for how inequality in higher education is created and sustained. For many students, their pursuit of long-term educational success was grounded and strategic. Educated in environments that measured academic success primarily by enrolling in college—not necessarily graduating with a degree—they developed strategies to achieve that goal with minimal effort in school.
The goal of the “free-college” movement is, of course, to help more students access the benefits of a college education. To make that happen, it is necessary for policymakers to examine why that’s not happening today. At the root of that story is academic preparation in high school (combining both course rigor and achievement in those classes), the single strongest predictor of college completion according to a landmark study.Following on the heels of that story, Should Students Get ‘Grades 13 and 14’ Free of Charge? from the New York Times Magazine
Sara Goldrick-Rab, a self-described “scholar-activist” who teaches higher education policy at Temple University, has a more expansive idea: Make the first two years free for everyone who attends a community college (all of which are public) or four-year state school. Directing more resources to the first two years of college would help people from lower-income families overcome the biggest barrier to their success, which is the living costs associated with housing, food, transportation and books while they attend school.
The federal government currently gives tens of billions of dollars in grants and subsidies each year to private colleges and for-profit trade schools in the United States, despite the fact that public colleges educate three-quarters of the students pursuing a postsecondary degree. “I say let the privates and for-profits fend for themselves,” Goldrick-Rab says, and put that money instead toward what she sometimes calls Grades 13 and 14.
Goldrick-Rab, a sociologist by training, started thinking about fixes for the price of higher education around 2008, when she started following 3,000 Pell recipients who entered a community college or publicly financed four-year program in Wisconsin. Six years into her project, only half of them had completed their studies. The subjects whom Goldrick-Rab featured in her book “Paying the Price” last year worked so many hours just to cover their bills that most of them never had a chance. “Community college is where the working class gets stuck,” Goldrick-Rab says. “It’s where the lower middle class gets stuck.”
Why, in these lean times, spend any money paying the tuition on behalf of wealthy families who don’t qualify for financial aid?
One reason is that treating the first two years of college as an extension of high school would probably generate wider support than a plan meant only for the needy. Offering a benefit to everyone proved to be crucial a few years ago when New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, sold the notion of universal prekindergarten, or “Pre-K for All,” on the basis of its availability to rich and poor alike. Bipartisan support for two free years of college might be more likely if presented as a universal benefit — and one critical to the country’s economic competitiveness, internationally speaking.