The Challenge of Choice

What did you find most interesting or challenging in the reading?

I found it interesting that this article pointed out how freedom of choice is being allowed in general English classrooms but not in honors or AP English.  This made me wonder, why are those classes sticking so rigidly to an outdated mode of instruction?  In my opinion, choice should be the entire foundation of honors and AP English classes as one of the main tenets is to challenge the students, and not every student is going to be challenged by the same thing.  Therefore, it would be better for all parties involved to integrate choice with the goal to consistently challenge each and every student regardless of whether the student is in the general class or the honors/AP class.

However, there is a point to be made that such determination to stick to, what I can assume is being implied as I have had experience with honors/AP courses, the “classics” stems from an underlying elitism.  I have an issue with the concept of honors classes anyway.  I mean, I understand that it is important to challenge every student, but differentiation in the general classroom can do that without the school separating out the “cream of the crop” for special treatment and kickbacks while the “general populace” gets to be denied the same opportunities and experiences.

What surprised you?

I was surprised that teachers felt that AR tests could ever hope to hold students accountable for their reading.  According to this article, such was the reason for the unwillingness to give up Accelerated Reader.  Now, I do not know about everyone else, but I know for a fact that there was no way I was going to be held accountable for my reading through AR.  Half the time I was taking those tests, I was simultaneously skimming a book I had never really read to find the answer or the question/s were so obvious that you did not even need the book.  How, in any way, shape, or form, is this a good practice?

What did you learn or find yourself thinking about most?

I found myself thinking the most about how the teachers, mentioned in the two articles I have linked thus far, were the ones who seemed to be the most afraid of change.  Do we not go through each and every Education course being taught to prepare to adapt?  New research, student individuality, educational needs, learning profiles, and more should all have an impact on our teaching methods.  However, we seem to get stuck in the same old pattern either because we think it is a solid, and thus irrefutable, model of instruction or we are afraid to challenge the status quo.  We literally have the future of our nation sitting in front of us every time we teach a class, so how could we possibly think that they deserve anything less than our best?

How do these articles relate to your own experiences as a teacher or student or to your hopes for your own future classroom or work with students?

These articles relate to my hopes for my future classroom in that I want my students to be able to recognize their individuality and what that means for them.  I do not want to teach my students that to matter in this world they have to choose a job that they hate just because it pays really well.  I do not want my students to ever feel like their net worth should ever control their self worth.  Instead, I want my students to become healthy, happy, safe, and successful adults whatever that means to them as individuals.  Therefore, I want my educational practices to reflect this ideal, and giving my students freedom of choice directly correlates to this goal.

choice
Sourced from pdxdiver on Flickr
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7 thoughts on “The Challenge of Choice

  1. I hated being in advanced classes because not only did the other students in those classes have a superiority complex, which I did not have, but I felt awkward around my friends who weren’t in those classes with me. I felt that I had set apart by them from forces out of my control. You’re smart so you get stuck in this class and your friends are dumb. That’s just how I felt plus I was stuck with the same classmates in 7th and 8th grade and some of my classes in high school.

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  2. While I am not necessarily a die hard AR fan, I do see value in it. I realize that many kids learn how to skim for answers, but honestly, isn’t that itself a skill that they need to know how to do eventually? I know many high school students and even college students who skim for answers. Whether it is due to time constraints or whatever, it is still a necessary skill.

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    1. Skimming for answers directly stems from a need/desire to achieve a grade over any true learning and is therefor a problematic behavior that students have been forced to learn over actual learning. When a student picks up a book with no intention of actually reading the book and all the intention of achieving those paltry ten points that have had worth and value arbitrarily assigned to them and never touching that book again… that kind of mentality devalues the author’s efforts and devalues reading for the sake of reading in the mind of the student. The best comparison that I can make is that reading is like getting a full night of good sleep whereas skimming is like downing energy drinks instead of sleeping. The long-term damage far outweighs any instant gratification.

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      1. Astute observation, however, there are times when reading for information is necessary and specific. I am not saying in a literature class, but there are other classes that it may be entirely acceptable. In addition, in a world of timed tests, if you read at a slower pace you may be forced to skim for information in order to finish on time.

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  3. Students should be given more choices in general. We ask these kids to make choices for their future while they skill have to ask to go to the bathroom. Students will work harder when they have a choice of what they are reading and have a choice with assignments in the class. I really enjoyed reading your blog post!

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