Friday, April 11, 2014

Skipping College - Patricia Muesse

Skipping college?

Ok, before you decide to block your college bound student from reading this post, let me explain.  Nikhil Goyal, recently name to FORBES 30 under 30 in Education, wrote a post “In Defense of Skipping College and Enrolling n the Real World”, where he cites a number of examples where not completing college was the best thing to do--Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Richard Branson. And it’s true, college is not for everyone. But these men had determination and would not have stopped no matter what got in their way. 

In Paul Tough’s book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Characterhe makes the case for the importance of "non-cognitive" skills, such as persistence and resilience, in whether a person will overcome adversity to create a successful life—good career, happy family and intact home (his definition). In this TED talk, The key to success? Grit, Angela Lee Duckworth describes grit as a key ingredient to a successful life.  Whether your child goes to college or not, these qualities add to their overall success.

School at any level is not a “one size fits all” process and it’s important to understand the individual and help them navigate the best decision for their future.

Patricia Muesse
School Choice International

Friday, April 4, 2014

What do you get when you combine the Montessori Method and Technology?

What do you get when you combine the Montessori method and technology?

The MarcoPolo Ocean app of course!

MarcoPolo Learning, Inc has teamed up with a professor of child development from Tufts, a science teacher from Speyer Legacy School, an educational game designer, and a marine education advisor to create an app that allows children to create dolphins, sharks, and whales, and then make them jump and interact in a coral reef or the deep sea.

The app creates “self-directed educational experiences for touch devices that spark that same curiosity and joy in investigating how the world works.” The vision aligns well with the Montessori’s guiding principle - the young child is guided by a sort of inner teacher, and this naturally draws them to activities and experiences that will help them to complete each stage of their development.

Dr. Maria Montessori of Italy developed the philosophy and practice of Montessori education in the early 1900’s. She furnished the classroom with materials unique to the Montessori Method, just as the online “ocean” is furnished with puzzles and hidden interactions between fish. Like Dr. Montessori’s classroom, each fish, dolphin, and crab contains a built-in control of error, or some characteristic that allows the child to clearly tell when they make a mistake, allowing for self-correction.

Ready to see a Montessori classroom from the 21st century?

For those of you in the education world - here’s the burning question: What would Dr. Montessori think? 

Laila Plamondon
School Choice International

Thursday, March 27, 2014

School discipline- Patricia Muesse

 A recent Opinion piece in The New York Times suggests we have given up on at-risk students citing a number of statistics that minority and disabled children are suspended from school more frequently. 

How best to discipline students, and at what age, is complex and controversial.  So much of appropriate behavior has a cultural component and in the U.S. ‘s heterogeneous culture, the issue is that much more complex.   Many discipline issues arise when the schooling environment is not appropriate for the child or when schooling expectations are not in line with what is modeled in the home. 

There is also a bigger social issue going on here. A child needs to be raised in the home first, and then we expect our tax dollars to educate them in our public schools.  This is first a tax issue as not enough money is given to our schools, and students’ needs are complex.  Overcrowded classrooms will send trouble makers home.  There is not enough funding to discipline or attend to any student that needs more attention than a “typical” kid.  Add special needs to the mix and the situation is exacerbated.    

On the home front, at risk kids usually have one parent or two parents that work; some are raised by grandma and live in a multi-generational household.  On that end, what can the state do to support them?  Is someone home at 3 p.m.?  Can someone help with homework, get supplies needed for projects or give the child the basics (such as breakfast)?  Their foundation does not provide them an equal chance to be a successful student. 

So the situation is just not one regarding schools and education, but support in the home and responsibility for society as a whole.  At-risk kids are a by-product of our chasm between social economic classes.  Their education is only a part of the equation.

Mr. Gilliam has suggested limiting enrollment to 10 students per preschool teacher as one remedy to the situation. However, this also adds to the confusion since current law establishes one teacher to eight children for four-year-olds. (see page 2 Student:Teacher).

Before we criticize our schools and teachers, let’s take a deeper look at some of the underlying issues in a difficult and complex problem.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Patrica Muesse
Global Field Supervisor
School Choice International


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