Inside, Outside, Upside Down

"The reason why this study is important is because it emphasizes something educators already know – our classrooms and our schools do not exist in vacuums. Our students come to us with lives and backgrounds that are far more influential upon their academic potentials and performances than whatever I do for 45 minutes a day, 183 days a year.

This means that if we really want to address the achievement gap in education, we have to look outside the school system for some of the solutions to the education problem."

Is that what the study means? If those who really want to address the achievement gap have to look outside the school system, why do we even have schools? That’s a serious question. If socialization predicts educational success or failure and future economic situation, as research shows, what are schools doing?

Schools exist in an environment, not a vacuum, just like every teacher knows, but you walk into any classroom in North America and it looks pretty much the same as any other classroom in North America. The teacher’s methods and the curriculum are pretty much the same across this vast land with its multiplicity of languages, cultures and communities. The environments are different. The methods work in some environments and not in others.

There’s the problem.

The solution could be experimenting with method and curriculum. Imagine for a second that teachers don’t know everything. I’d bet that the majority of teachers in less successful schools drive in from outside those communities, meaning they don’t really know who they’re teaching. Teachers in these communities need to become learners. Teachers need to become experimental, and really what have you got to lose? The kids are failing anyway. Get the kids talking, you’ll need to learn their language, and then with you at the helm (A role model for students is a learner not a teacher.), you’ve got a learning environment.

It’s not that easy. Most experiments fail. But things aren’t working right now inside the school. Schools in different communities should look, learn and sound different, because they are.

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