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THE READING AND HOMEWORK CRUSADE

I’ve come up with the most outlandish and absurd idea how to solve the reading problem to help children become better readers.  When you read what I’ve suggested you’ll realize I have too much time on my hands.  But through experience I know that a bad idea can be turned into a good one, that may set-off a spark, with proper thinking by people who are interested in helping children and themselves.

I won’t be disappointed if you delete this article shortly after you begin reading it.  I felt like doing that more than once while writing it, thinking it was total nonsense and should be trashed.  I know it’s long but I decided to keep it all together as one blog rather than in two or three parts.  The following are my ideas:

We are constantly hearing the question, “What is wrong with education?” Invariably the non-educators blame the professional educators. There might be some truth to this accusation, but during my 28 years as an educator, there were less than a handful who I considered unqualified to be teachers. Many educators feel the present teaching corps in our country is the best trained in history. The response to their critics is hardly made in an audible voice, that one of the main reasons for this problem is the negative social revolution that has taken place within the family unit.

Educators for a few decades have surrendered to useless, countless theories, pontificated by unchallenged college professors with billions of dollars having been spent on these beliefs. Almost two generations of innocent children have been used as guinea pigs, victims of these self-proclaimed “Gurus” mass educational experiments, with the last one coming from our own government with there “No Child Left Behind.”

When I was a classroom teacher, I found weaker students always improved when there were kids in class who learned faster.  I’ve always felt that slow learners were just as smart, only that they were slower learners.  I fell into that category as a child but worked myself out of it. A pleasant learning environment, beginning with a sharp teacher, also invariably leads to a self-disciplined class. If you don’t have discipline, you won’t have order. If you don’t have order, you won’t have learning.

Education has had problems for years, but teachers were able to hold their own. With the advent of mothers going to work, welfare rolls growing, illegitimate pregnancy rates rising, children without fathers, family values eroded.  Loss of respect for all authority soon followed.  With these difficult problems good teaching became impossible! The final outcome of this loss of values in many cases has seen an increase in serious crime

With mothers at work, a corresponding number of good students declined in classrooms. Those mothers who traditionally helped their children with homework, now had no time or were too tired. The fathers, who also worked, found themselves in the same predicament.

We know the schools have problems, but the root cause of these difficulties begin at home. What do we do? Hopefully a few of the following suggestions will begin to solve this overwhelming erosion of our lives.

A possible solution is having volunteers help students with their homework, with reading at the core, at the students’ homes, schools, churches and community centers after school or at night. We can use high school and college students, parents, retired teachers or senior citizens as tutors. In essence, everyone.  This would be ideal for many high school students doing their senior projects.

This concept, right from its inception as you probably realized, has as many holes as Swiss cheese and fraught with hazards. But sometimes the impossible can be the answer. The whole idea and solution will require tremendous sacrifice and time on the part of those involved.

There are so many intangibles with the ideas I’m going to present, you’ll understand what I meant in the previous paragraph.

THE PROGRAM: First, we’ll begin with a neighborhood concept. Why? The child will feel more comfortable with someone who lives close by, possibly in the same apartment complex or house on the block. This will help create a closer, neighborly feeling. Hopefully, others will get involved when they see what their neighbors are doing. We can use the child’s home, neighborhood schools, churches or community centers, all possibly within walking distance of their homes. Of course this project will involve all groups regardless of race or religion.

Who will be used in teaching the children? When I taught 4th grade, I held four different reading levels at the same time in my class. These four levels were taught by each of my top students, as I supervised them, moving from group to group. I taught the top students at a different time. The advances made by all groups were incredible. The point I’m making is that children can be taught by anyone who is truly interested in helping and can read and write. Of course, children will not be used to teach in this project.

As I mentioned before, people from high school age and up will be used to implement the program. This could be a wonderful opportunity for senior citizens to participate and work with young people.

The initial thrust will probably be successful, but will it still be working 6 months later? The most difficult part will be to sustain and continue the program. Maybe we can try it for six months, and then evaluate its progress.

This next idea is actually impossible, really absurd! But as I said, the impossible is the very thing that might work. Try getting black and Hispanic gang members involved in the program as tutors. Why? Many are capable of teaching, even though they do poorly in school. Just because they don’t do well in school doesn’t mean they’re not smart or can’t teach!  The idea is to try to motivate them and give their own education a boost. This might earn them respect from the neighbors. This new-found respect might turn them around and lead them down a new path. I consider saving even one young person a success!

Many parents might be afraid to let gang members into their homes. Gang members themselves will have brothers and sisters who will need assistance. Maybe they can start there.

Getting the gang members into the tutoring program might be an insurmountable task, but we can try. How? We’ll speak to black ministers who know many of the families; get other ministers and churches involved where Hispanics are parishioners; get advise from former gang members who are now teachers or work for the schools as gang consultants. All these people can be a part of the organizing and idea committee. In lieu of sentencing gang members to a correctional facility, have the judges order them to be a part of this program to teach members of their own families or others in need. This activity might keep them both out of trouble (This idea could be a little risky but worth a thought).

 A pilot program could be set up in a small neighborhood. Newspapers, schools and churches could notify all parents about the idea, or flyers could be distributed in those neighborhoods. The school district could also have a representative on the committee, but neighborhood people must run the group.

At the beginning, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade children could be the primary beneficiaries of this program. This is where homework and study habits begin. The volunteer homework helpers can assist 2 or 3 times during the school week for approximately 1/2 hour per session (the time allotted could be flexible). The child’s parents or responsible guardian must always be present on the premise. This is something the ground rules committee can decide.

If money is needed, funding for the program could be requested from fraternal organizations in the community, plus local businesses. Presently both groups are being exploited for donations and are moneyed out, but this must be a total community effort.

What I’m basically recommending is a return to “old values.” The total cooperation of the community is an absolute necessity. Everyone is exhausted and tired at the end of the day, but we must get off our sofas and recliners if our children are to survive. If we want a peaceful community rather than a jungle, we must all do our part, now!

Our biggest competitors and enemies are the Internet, cell phones, computer games, and TV.  Dragging our mesmerized minds and bodies from the tube or computer will be a major obstacle. A substantial effort will be required to obtain equal time for our children’s lives and minds. We must convince people of the importance of this issue and that our survival depends upon it.

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April 18, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories, no child left behind | , , , , | Leave a comment