October 20th, 2009

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Creating Schools That Work

Teaching Tolerance recently posted two articles about effective education.

"Pushed Out" describes, and supports with ominous statistics, how "zero-tolerance" policies not only fail to make schools safe but drastically increase discipline problems and decrease academic performance. The policies are provably worse than useless.

"What Can This Student Teach You About the Classroom?" features some advice from a student about how to make a classroom work, i.e. the teacher needs to engage with the students. I'm greatly impressed that she's actually getting some attention to this bit of wisdom.

Basically, young people are biologically designed to learn. But if they don't feel safe and heard, they'll withdraw or become disruptive. If the system strangles them, they will struggle to claw their way loose. Because even a wadded-up kid is made of SillyPutty, and they will absorb whatever is around them. So if adults treat kids as if they are stupid, lazy, worthless, undisciplined, and/or criminal ... that's how most of them will turn out.