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March 4, 2009

<< Time and Materials | Get Off the Bus >>

Too Old to Teach

The moral of Paul Tough’s stellar Whatever It Takes might be that sixth grade is far too late to start instilling sound learning habits in a student who hasn’t had a good educational foundation. Geoffrey Canada’s quixotic quest to bring left-behind sixth-graders up to their grade level in reading and math is somewhat heartbreaking. He ends the book still hoping that it’s possible to accomplish, but I finished it much less optimistic.

But this Phawker series is a hellish look at what happens after we’ve stopped trying.

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Posted March 4, 2009 at 4:22 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Briefly Noted

Comments

Effectively, intervention with post-elementary students seriously behind grade level is really just keeping them from leaving school and becoming criminals or indigent. This isn't to say that they can't, over time, continue to learn or develop, just that they're unlikely to do so in the context of K-12 education and standardized testing. If they turn things around, it won't likely be because of you.

The "public health" component of work with post-elementary students shouldn't be discounted, exactly because you DON'T want to write off these kids who can't get back on grade level. You need to do it, and then try to address the systemic problems with good educational and social policy that intervenes much earlier.

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