Archive for July, 2009

Metal Detectors in Schools: Help or Harm?

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After the attack in 1999 in the Colorado’s Columbine High School, security has become the prime concern in every school. Schools are now using metal detectors and scanners as a part of their rules and principles. Every day student queued up, outside the premises unbuckling their shoes, belts and even emptying their pockets off the coins if they have any. This process is taking a marathon time and even delaying the students for their classes. A school is meant for education but now metal detectors are becoming the first preference for the school authorities.

If a student is delayed for his first class for a silly reason that is indeed useless in the school regulation. The metal detectors are silly in the sense that when attackers will target a school they will obviously do it on the purpose of killing people so what a metal detector will do in that case. Attackers will not by a metal detector or a scanner for a security check up. Even a software for evaluating threat is of no use as no attacker is that fool to threat of an attack to aware people. Even a SWAT team has no function in securing the school from any kind of attacks as every attack occurs for a minute and everything ends up before police or any security team arrives for help.

Security experts, police and researchers have suggested that instead of depending on physical security systems like metal detectors, scanners and threat evaluation software, its better to interact with the students more to stop any attack will it is in progress. Students might come to hear certain suspicious events going to take place in the school through which the school may track an attack. Watch out for any rare or suspicious actions in the school premises which might be a preplanning of an attack. With these alerts a school can be safer to attacks than depending blindly on physical security systems.

All articles contributed in full or part by Athens Learning college preparedness resource.

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The No Child Left Behind Dubbed Debacle

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According to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, all public schools need to conduct a uniform test held every year in all the states for all students. Schools that have been awarded Title I funding, has to fulfil the criteria of Adequate Yearly Progress in the test scores, and failing to do so means being featured in the list of “failing schools”. Parents can then transfer their kids to another school. Failing to qualify AYP for a second year, entails providing special tuition for students who cannot afford the same.

NCLB did address many unresolved issues that were long overdue. First, it tried to solve the inequality plague in many schools, by abating differences in student performance by race and class. Second, it insisted that all students are entitled to qualified teachers. Hence, places where, students suffered with a string of untrained teachers did not have to face the hassle anymore.

But the NCLB act undoubtedly raised many eyebrows. For starters, one of the main authors of the ACT was Margaret Spelling, a B.A in political science, but with no formal training in education or no experience in the school system. Possibly the second biggest debacle in Bush’s term after the Iraq fiasco is the NCLB.

In contrast to the negligible positives, that NCLB has had a large number of cons attached to the term. It stresses on teaching as a path to tests, and not as a facilitator for learning. It has resulted in an unnecessary numbers of tests covering almost all grade levels. This has led to the abolition of other necessary subjects like art, music, foreign language and sports in many schools. As the tests mainly concentrate on Maths and English, there has been a considerable reduction in teaching of subjects like science and civics. Though it has labelled innumerable schools as failures, it has failed itself in providing additional funding to these schools. Many low income area schools have faced closure. They had failed to meet the federal standards, and thus the staff had been fired. This has indirectly been a way in trying to make districts fund charter private schools rather than the ‘failed’ public ones.

The Act has, in all its sense, misunderstood the problem underlying the schools; it is basic elementary changes that the schools need for development and not a stricter stringent measure similar to a carrot and sticks approach.

All articles contributed in full or part by Athens Learning college preparedness resource.

Why is Distance Education Gaining Popularity?

Distance-Education

Distance education as the name implies is the method of implementing education to students who are distanced from the source of education by space or time and cannot be physically present in the classrooms. The course material for these programs are provided through DVDs, e-mails, print materials etc and the aim is to provide a comprehensive educational experience to the learners. In the recent times distance education is increasingly gaining popularity all over the world. The reason for this is that it is a very convenient mode of study.

The chief advantage of distance education is that you can study at your own pace and take your own time. You can balance your studies alongside other activities. This also saves you from the daily grind of commuting. For people who have to work and yet wish to pursue higher studies this is the ideal method. Distance education also caters to the needs of parents with kids who find it almost impossible to attend regular classes. Moreover with the seats to professional courses in regular colleges being limited barely a few people can get through.

Distance education gives you the opportunity to pursue the course of your choice even if you do not have the qualifying marks to get through in regular courses. There are also students who do not find the environment in a classroom very congenial. This could be because they are overcome by a sense of embarrassment when surrounded by a lot of other people or because they find it difficult to speak up or ask questions in the presence of others. Studying in their own familiar environment and being at ease with themselves give them a better opportunity to perform.

A person might want to take up their studies after being forced to give it up at some point of time under unfortunate circumstances. Such a person would naturally be older than the average college-goers. Usually such a person finds it difficult to adjust in the classroom environment. Distance education is the best instrument at his disposal.

Learning is a life-long process and often we need education to give us the knowledge, expertise and believability to effect positive changes in our lives. Distance education is not just a boon to a person’s career but it is also one of the best options for attaining knowledge.

All articles contributed in full or part by Athens Learning college preparedness resource.

Why We Need Nationalized Tests

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Education is generally the responsibility of the state government, with the federal government only having a say in cases where it has contributed funds. If we go back to earlier times, the education system was run locally, with schools deciding on the curriculum independently. But in an effort to improve the quality and standard of education imparted to students a state level school system was established. However, in recent times a major percentage of academicians and students are stressing on the need for a nationalized testing system. To illustrate this fact, a survey found that 78% Americans have endorsed the idea of nationalized standard tests. But why do we need nationalized tests anyway?

To maintain uniformity in the curriculum structure nationwide

If we are to implement nationalized testing, we must first formulate a common nationwide curriculum which will provide the students and teachers with a definitive guideline on what the students will be tested. Though this idea seems to be a bit far fetched initially, once implemented, it will be the cornerstone for a uniform education system throughout the nation. Moreover this will go a long way in ensuring that students living in the outskirts or the villages get educated and tested on a proper curriculum that is being followed elsewhere in the country.

Nationalized test will provide a uniform way of assessing students from different parts of the country

Students after completion of their education at the state level compete for various posts of importance at the national level, thus creating a need for a system that will find the most suitable candidate for the job. As there exist diversified education systems throughout the country, nationalized tests become inevitable. For example, we may need to find out who are the students to represent the country at the International Maths Olympiad or the candidates who get to join NASA. Nationalized tests also solve the problem of comparing the grades of students from two different states as there may be major variations in marking patterns.

Nationalized tests are thus needed to provide an unbiased opinion on the quality of students, to prevent favoritism, provide transparency and make significant improvements in the education system of the country as a whole.

All articles contributed in full or part by Athens Learning college preparedness resource.

Montessori Method of Learning

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If education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man, then the method to bring out that perfection is extremely significant. It is this method that Dr. Maria Montessori had developed way back in the early 20th century. Popularly known as the Montessori method of teaching all across the globe, it primarily deals with self-motivation and auto education of a child.

Unlike other forms of imparting education that intend to instruct and teach a child, the Montessori method is based on the belief that a child will gain knowledge naturally if placed in an environment having the proper materials. These materials, consisting of “learning games” suited to a child’s aptitude and interests, are arranged by a teacher-observer who mediates only when individual help is needed.

Experts and educationists are all praise for the Montessori method. They observe that it helps a child in cultivating social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools. Evaluating the Montessori method versus the conventional mode of education, it has been observed by noted scholars that the Montessori method is more suited to what psychological research divulges about human development.

Montessori method is seen as a system aimed at the growth of a child’s cognitive or rational faculty. Hence it is interpreted as a way of progressive education that aims at developing motor abilities along with sensory and intellectual skills of a child.

The Montessori method runs on the philosophy that a child develops and thinks differently from adults. Children are not just “adults in small bodies”. The method brings into consideration children’s rights, their growing into responsible adults and leading to world peace. Contrary to traditional methods, “We instill a desire to learn and provide things to feed that desire,” says Fosca White, Director of the Montessori Academy of Chicago, Illinois.

The Montessori method is greatly a hands-on approach to learning. It creates a child-centric environment that promotes individualized learning through exploration, discovery and creativity under the supervision of a well-trained teacher. The underlying philosophy, as stated by Dr. Montessori herself, “Never let a child risk failure until he has a reasonable chance of success,” is what makes it a better way of learning on any given day.

All articles contributed in full or part by Athens Learning college preparedness resource.

Keep Sex Education in the Home! …right?

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There has been an ongoing debate on whether a child should get sex education at school or would it be better for him or her to have the required information at their own home. Some parents may not feel easy talking about sex with their children and prefer that they learn it at school. But of course it is a very good idea if parents can make their children aware of sex and its do’s and dont’s.

Although most parents ignore the importance of sex education and unfortunately let their children learn it the hard way. But a prior check and proper information on the subject help the teenagers become aware of the dangers of practicing unsafe sex and getting trouble.

Initially, it may seem a little difficult to strike up a conversation with your children but if you interact more with them and understand their problems and needs, you would be able to answer their questions easily. Sex education is definitely better off at home as every child gets more personal attention and answers to all their queries. In school, they will be taught only theories. Life is a child is full of questions and queries about unknown. Your child may not feel at ease about discussing their queries and problems with their teachers as they will feel with you.

Sex education should be given at home as children require discussing a lot of things about it. It will be impossible for a teacher to understand and answer the queries of a class full of students. It is the personal attention they need to take the right direction and not some theories to make them confident and happy. Mothers are supposed to be the best teachers when it comes to sex education but nowadays many fathers are doing a great job too.

All it takes is a little support and understanding from you to make your child confident about proper sexual behaviors.

All articles contributed in full or part by Athens Learning college preparedness resource.

Censorship in the School Libraries: Banned Reading

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Former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, the late Potter Stewart, had once said, ‘Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.’ So, is it the society’s lack of confidence in its basic moralities that has led to the Censorship in school libraries?

The school library has now turned into a battle field of sorts with censors group and the curiosity of students to delve into diverse literature fighting each other. And curbing this desire, are many. If there are Fundamentalists, opposing abortion issues, then there are feminists protesting backdated female stereotypes. If there is African-American groups objecting to the portrayal of their race, then there are parents who simply judge ban by what trouble them individually!

Way back, in 1982, Island Trees Union Free School District No 26 had withdrawn a number of books from the library, for they feared that these books could fuel anti-American, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic sentiments. The students and their parents challenged the board’s decision. The United States Supreme Court passed a judgement, which stated only books that were ‘educationally unsuitable’ shall be removed. The point is, strangely censorship of books in libraries has crossed these limits.

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been banned for the ‘nigger’ word, but has it ever occurred to the supporters of the ban that Twain wanted to tell the truth of slavery in its own language. Treasure Island was another book that few censors in Ohio tried to remove it from the library shelves, reason being the book might encourage children to commit piracy. There are books like Sweet Valley, ‘Animorphs’, and the ‘Goosebumps’ series, so popular yet often damned for they lack literary merit.

Censorship has its own set of detractors, but is it not really true, that kids do at times, try to imitate their favourite literary characters? Many child psychologists do recommend that literature for young children should be based on simple concepts and in an ideal way. Censorship undoubtedly goes overboard at many times, and therefore it is important to know and understand the point to stop. Obviously we cannot stop teaching mythology for it has magic, or History for it has war, or Macbeth for it has murders!

All articles contributed in full or part by Athens Learning college preparedness resource.