Jay Evensen: When schools get in the way of real learning

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Feb. 6, 2013 6:33 a.m.

    The problem is not isolated to Utah. I live in Washington State.
    Once of my children would come home from school every day and do two to three hours of homework each night without being asked. She was only in the 5th grade. She got one A and one F and all other grades were D's on her report card. The teacher commented that our daughter had not completed a single homework packet that year (a packet was one weeks homework).
    This girl could hardly read, she could not multiply. He homework was all busy work.

    We decided to homeschool her. I had to write my own curriculum. Eighteen months later she was doing pre-algebra. My wife patiently read with her and fixed her reading problems. She graduated from our homeschool, completed her AA degree, filled a mission and is now married.

    We had a choice: Let her continue to do busy work or give her a real education. We chose the latter. We had to do something. If we didn't intervene she would have given up.

    It appears that the primary goal of the schools in Washington state is to produce good little socialists.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Feb. 5, 2013 8:53 p.m.

    The basic premise of the article is correct. Education is in need of overhaul. Money is not the answer either. It is a need for common sense to be exercised. Standardized testing on a massive scale isn't productive. Many required classes are not instructive for everyone. Many students would be better off with pratical classes not geared for those pursuing college. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I know that all is NOT well in most education systems. Maryland was judged to be at the top academically in a recent study, and we have grandchildren who have excelled in Maryland schools. However, our granddaughter, who is a senior there, has been stressed all through high school about unrealistic expectations. My last comment is that ceasing to teach cursive in early grades isn't a good idea; learning cursive contributes to brain development, and has in our culture for many generations. It is a useful communication skill too.

  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    Feb. 5, 2013 8:24 p.m.

    As a 25 year teacher in Utah public schools the problem of students taking classes they already have mastered through prior classes and out of the classroom experience is common. Every year I've tried through various means to get our schools to implement a system that would allow three options; test out (This would require the teacher to always have a current comprehensive exam for students to take and a second teacher to review both the exam and results.) Every school should be part of a system of online enrichment with a variety of regular and advanced courses for every grade level, and a clearly written set of guidelines for students and parents in print and online to help them find solutions. I know we can do a better job if we will recognize the problem and work together to develop solutions.

    Feb. 5, 2013 5:01 p.m.

    'I don't believe your unfortunate experience is common.'

    I do believe this experience is common. I just moved here a few months ago from Huntington Beach, CA and I now have four children complaining about having to take classes and subjects they completed an average of two years ago. Three of the four are in the most advanced classes offered at their grade levels and view all their classes as boring reviews (except Utah History and PE). As an example my 15 year old has had to sit through half a year of programming a Lego Mindstorms robot as an introduction to programming. He first did this when he was nine, six years ago!

    We really need to rethink our system of learning and not be stuck teaching to the 'lowest common denominator'!

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 2:29 p.m.

    I'm disappointed that you would base your attack on traditional public schools on a single anecdote. I don't believe your unfortunate experience is common.

    The biggest problem I see in Utah public schools is constant micromanagement by our legislature accompanied by the nation's stingiest budgets. It doesn't help that so many are now criticizing our devoted teachers. It doesn't help that the massive surge of over-testing is pressuring principals to force teachers to focus on tricks and quick, short-term gains in limited areas, to look good on the next test, instead of the gradual, deep learning that helps most in the long run. Our teachers are now serving for mostly altruistic purposes, since their salaries are ever less competitive.