A,B,C or Aa, Bb, Cc

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The longer I teach or tutor, the more I learn! I attended a workshop for pre-k’s on Friday presented by GET SET FOR SCHOOL©. I will be using the materials and skills in two of j&R Tutoring Academy’s summer sessions, Kindergarten Readiness and Cursive Writing.

One piece of knowledge that I took from the workshop is that it is more difficult for young children to learn both upper and lower case letters at the same time. Unfortunately, this is common practice today.

The GET SET FOR SCHOOL© program teaches the child how to hold a pencil or crayon correctly and presents the letters in an order that facilitates learning. The method also prevents children from reversing letters!

If what I have experienced with my tutoring students is representative of all students, then correct or proper writing is nearly a lost art! Additionally, the public schools no longer teach cursive writing, and as a result, children are not developing much needed fine motor skills.

In the GET SET FOR SCHOOL© program A is not the first letter taught. Why? Very young children are able to draw straight lines, both horizontal and vertical. Three and four year olds can draw circles and make crosses. Five and six year olds can draw a square and a triangle. The triangle is usually the last figure a child can draw correctly.

Drawing lines on the diagonal is the most difficult of the skills. Yet, the first letter a child is usually expected to be able to make is the capital A! I can confirm that very young children struggle to write the capital A.

Not only have I been frustrated by the poor writing skills of many of my tutoring students, but their grip on a writing instrument is shocking! I even had one student who would change grips four or five times – all different – while doing one exercise!

Sadly, I suspect this lack of attention to writing skills is a result of the over testing so prevalent in elementary schools today. There is just not enough time to address writing skills.

The other element that has impacted writing generally is the computer and the accompanying hi-tech products. Even two year olds can operate an IPad! So conventional wisdom says we don’t need to know how to write because keyboards are the future.

What has been lost in the rush to high tech are the skills learned that are the result of learning how to write. According to Dr. Carol Christensen, “printing and typing do not stimulate the synchronicity between the brain’s right and left hemisphere, but cursive does.”

The quote by Dr. Christensen was included in the online version of The Federalist in an article by Jennifer Doverspike. She also noted that cursive “activates parts of the brain that lead to increased language fluency.” The same article went on to say that cursive writing keeps the brain busy and lowers the rate of cognitive decline.

I think we can safely conclude that cursive writing is good for children and for older folks as well!

Today college students (high school too) take a computer to class, thereby eliminating the need to take notes. What has been forgotten is that the act of writing/taking notes is one of the best ways we imprint information on our brain. We study notes, outline them, highlight them, perhaps even rewrite them. Guess what all of this does? Makes us smarter and better able to retain the information.

When the information is on the computer, we may read over it a few times. That is not nearly as effective as the “old way.”

And we wonder why high school graduation rates have not improved; why the number of non-credit, remedial college courses has skyrocketed.

I learned so many useful skills Friday that I wish our summer classes were starting this Monday!

 

All the information about our Summer Study Fun! can be found on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/jnrtutoring.

Be sure to LIKE us while you are there! The registration form is on our website at www.jnrtutoring.com.

 

Here Comes Summer!

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Well, not really, but spring break is upon us which means summer is not far behind. Whether families are going away or staying at home, the routine changes and everyone is on a different schedule.

We all need a break once in a while.

Taking a break from learning for a week or two tends to revitalize everyone; however, taking a break from learning for two months or more has the opposite effect.

What to do?

Well, of course, I am going to have a suggestion. At j&R Tutoring Academy we are going to have four special eight week sessions. They are: Kindergarten Readiness, Cursive Writing, Organizational and Study Skills for Elementary Students, and Cognitive Skills.

We will continue to have our normal math and reading sessions for kindergarten through grade six students.

Why These?

Tutoring young students has exposed specific and repeated deficiencies. These four offerings are the ones that we see most frequently.

Cursive writing is not taught in the public schools at this time. We all know the justification for this – due to the proliferation of technology and keyboards, “we no longer need cursive writing.”

Ever tried to read the printing of an eight, nine or ten-year-old boy? Although I’m sure there are some who do quite well, far too many write illegibly! Cursive writing develops fine motor skills. And the number of children who form letters incorrectly is astonishing!

Kindergarten Readiness has become a critical skill.

SIDE NOTE: Personally I am not in favor pushing formal learning down to four and five year olds; however, it is the reality.

The third offering is Organizational and Study Skills for Elementary students. Although there are some who just seem to know what to keep and where to put assignments, too many do not. The current trend seems to be that each child has a packet of some type that includes homework and other requirements.

I never had a teacher who put a packet together for me! If I had homework, I was expected to take it home, do it and bring it back. That is called learning responsibility.

Although it is very nice that the students have these packets, it seems to take the place of personal responsibility.

We will teach students how to decide what to keep, what to file, what to throw away, and how to do these. We will use American history as a basis for this class.

Our final summer course is Cognitive Skills. This may be the most important offering we have. We will be using materials developed by Dr. Erica Warren.

This includes reversing letters, following directions, visualization as well as other cognitive skills. Very often children have trouble learning because these cognitive skills are lacking. There may be more than one session for this as we will group by age.

Where to sign up?

Our Facebook page has a longer description of each class. Go to http://www.facebook.com/jnrtutoring/. LIKE US while you are there!

Our website http://www.jnrtutoring.com has the registration sheet.

Join me for Summer Study Fun!

OOPS!!

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I realized upon re-reading my blog post from yesterday that I said something I now see could have been misleading. That statement was “I continue to question the premise that our education was/is so bad.”

Quality education has always been and continues to be critical to the success of the United States. What I question is what has happened to public education in the past 30 – 40 years and why.

In the latter half of the 20th century the powers that be decided that public education was substandard in the United States. Based on that premise multiple changes were implemented.

Among those changes were ability grouping, main streaming, open classrooms, outcome based education, year round school, and my personal favorite – never ending standardized testing.

Many of the changes noted above came and went. I was told as a college senior that year round school was about to happen. My first teaching position was in a junior high school where the students were ability grouped. I am now a grandmother and still waiting for year round school. Ability grouping and open classrooms have come and gone.

The point is that none of this tinkering with public education has made much difference. The one thing that has stayed is the standardized testing, and that has continued to grow much like a monster that cannot get enough to eat!

The other element of public education that has grown is the elimination of what we used to consider as fundamental subjects such as Latin; the elimination of the shop classes and other apprentice type studies. In their place we have weeks of preparation for and taking of standardized tests and social engineering subjects.

I am so old fashioned that I believe that parents should be the ones covering social engineering topics. I also believe that the teacher should be the one who does the majority of the test prep.

Standardized testing has its place, but it has taken over. As I have noted previously, read any article on standardized testing and the majority of the article discusses money, teachers, school rankings, contracts – just about anything but educating children.

So . . . back to my comment about schools; there will continue to be new ideas, subjects and procedures that will need to be considered. That should not mean that older subjects must be dumped. Choices will need to be made.

What we are currently witnessing is the belief that “one-size-fits-all” education is the answer. In order to ensure that this belief is working, “we” must administer the never ending standardized testing.

The result that I see in my tutoring is too many very young children already stressing about school! Good grief! Third graders in tears because they fear not passing a test!

What are we doing? There must be a better way to ensure that third graders can read.

Who Is Right? What Is Right?

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Reminiscing about the first grade last week has caused my brain to spin nearly non-stop since.

We regularly hear and read about how critical it is to develop and make available pre-school for all children. Politicians are lobbied to provide funding for pre-school. And of course, the need for pre-school is always tied to the current “most popular buzz word” FAIRNESS.

DETOUR —- Let me be the first to break this to you, but none of us is guaranteed “fairness” in this life. The Declaration of Independence (not the Constitution) states “that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In the beginning . . .

There are so very moving parts in the education today that it is pretty hard to know where to begin and on what to focus. I will try to keep it simple.

I still believe that money is at the root of a lot of the issues with education. Early US schools were the classic one room models. All ages were in one room/building. These schools usually ended at grade eight.

Have you ever seen some of the test questions for the eighth grade graduation test? My October 13, 2014 blog, “Too Much Oversight?” lists some of the questions on a typical eighth grade final in the late 19th century. These questions are not for the feint of heart.

More importantly the schools, teachers and money were local. They functioned as they were envisioned in the Constitution. And they did an excellent job!

I believe that the explosion in homeschooling reflects a desire to return to the simpler (and more effective) days of education.

Follow the money . . .

As the country grew, the schools grew, and by the mid twentieth century, the federal government could no longer sit by and allow local people to control that money. How could they get control of local money designated for schools? Create the U.S. Department of Education!

Although the schools don’t get all of their money from the federal government, enough is tied to it to force schools to bow down to this federal agency. One of the most recent examples is how President Obama tied federal education money to following his Race to the Top requirements.

Looking back again . . .

In the mid twentieth century about the time the powers that be decided our educational system was in dire straits, the majority of children lived in two parent homes. “Inner city” schools were some of the best in the area. No need to comment on the current state of either of these.

I continue to question the premise that our education was/is so bad. America is probably the most heterogeneous country in the world! With that make-up comes numerous and varied value sets and goals. The countries who regularly rank higher than the US are much smaller and more homogeneous. These two details make a big difference.

Pre-school . . .

The other element in this educational stew is pre-school. I am not opposed to pre-school, but I do wonder if we are doing as much harm as good.

Another often repeated “need” is pre-school for everyone. Government at all levels is being shamed into finding money for this.

There is no arguing that children who have attended a quality pre-school are ahead of those who don’t. And like just about everything else in America, the children in the impoverished areas lag well behind their peers.

Several studies have shown that by the end of the elementary years, any gain children had by attending pre-school has disappeared. Additionally, the percentage of students who need to take remedial classes in college has remained fairly constant.

Where does that leave us?

Pay attention to what your local schools are doing. If your child does not or cannot attend a pre-school, work with them at home. They may begin school behind their peers, but chances are, they will catch up. Help but don’t stress!

Don’t get caught up in educational platitudes coming out of Washington.

Frankly, that’s the last place I’d look to for guidance!

Check out our Facebook page for descriptions of our special summer offerings – Summer Study Fun!!!

Then and Now

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Recently, with the help of my adult children, their spouses and my granddaughter, we moved my elderly mother into a smaller space. This is the second time in two years this has been necessary. Each time the review of saved materials has fallen to me.

These trips down memory lane have been both sad and happy. This one was especially interesting. I discovered a hand written letter from my first grade teacher, Mrs. Nigh. For some perspective, I was in the first grade in 1953-4. (Okay, stop counting!!)

I had attended half-day public kindergarten the previous year. I can honestly say that I don’t remember too much about kindergarten, other than it was in the basement of the building, and I could hardly wait to “get upstairs.”

Education – circa 1953

The letter assured my mother that I was progressing nicely; that I had learned most of my letters and numbers, and Mrs. Nigh was sure I would do fine for the remainder of the school year. Oh, and for the remainder of the year, there would be a regular report card!

Now fast forward to 2016. My five-and-a-half-year-old grandson already knows his numbers and letters. He attends a relatively typical church sponsored pre-k four-hours a day, three days a week. I am currently tutoring a four-and-a-half-year old, who also attends a pre-school three days a week, but is having some trouble learning numbers and letters.

Some perspective

Although I’m not a member of the “The Greatest Generation”, mine did not do so badly. There was that moon landing thing. Computers. Cell phones. Microwaves. The Internet (sincere apologies to Al Gore!) Oh, and Woodstock!

Why is this important?

It is important because we were allowed to play. The greatest concerns – that I can remember – were did we share; did we take care of our toys and put them away; did we mind our parents; did we complete our little daily chores?

Somehow not knowing our numbers and letters by age five was not the end of the world.

What happened?

Although changes in education began in the mid twentieth century, two events – in my humble opinion –  that really were instrumental in generating change were 1) the creation of the U.S. Department of Education in 1972, and 2) the publishing of The Nation at Risk in 1983.

Everyone panicked.

The federal government has this amazing talent to convince us that we are in danger of something, and that they must come in and create programs to save us.

Secondly, the government is also able to convince us that they, and only they, know what is best.

Has it worked?

Not so much. I won’t bore you with statistics, but the greatest change in the past 40 – 50 years is that local control of education no longer exists. Wa$hington dictates what happens in our public schools.

Last year I wrote about Finland which consistently is ranked very high in education in the world ranking. Children do not even begin formalized schooling until age seven.

So . . .

Although we all want our children to succeed, if they don’t know everything before they enter kindergarten, do not panic. As I have said many times, young children learn at very different rates and ways. Help them, encourage them, provide them with opportunities to learn, but don’t overload them with education. Let the education come to them.

Be sure to check out our special Summer Study Fun sessions on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/jnrtutoring  and our website, http://www.jnrtutoring.com.

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Those %$#@*& Standardized Tests!

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This past week most of my tutoring students were taking the ISTEP, Indiana’s version of state testing.

I originally wrote about standardized testing in November of 2014. Not much has changed since then unless you live in Indiana and have a school-aged child. ISTEP has become the number one topic of derision.

Last year’s test was a total waste of time and money. There is not enough room in a blog posting to even begin to review all that went wrong.

So a year later, what has changed?

The results

I’d like to report that the test, the delivery system and the scoring have all been fixed. Operative word – like.  Pretty much everything is the same.

Parents of one student informed the school that they would hold their daughter out of school to prevent her from taking the test. They believe that their daughter would be better served if she were spending her class time receiving instruction rather than taking the test.

Naturally this has created quite a storm.

Then there is the situation with one of my current students. She came to tutoring literally traumatized about not being able to move to the fourth grade. I tried to comfort her and assure her that she would be fine. I do not think I was successful.

Sadly, these fears, founded or not, were the result of comments from her teacher.

Some history

In the mid twentieth century when standardized testing was first implemented, the tests were used ONLY to gauge the individual child against the standards for the grade and/or against that child’s prior test scores.  Schools were strictly prohibited from comparing classes or schools and districts (or cities or states, etc.) with one another.

Lest you think I’m just saying this to bolster my own opinion, I did a research paper on the topic while earning my MA/Education a few years ago. I was stunned when I discovered the truth about standardized tests.

With the creation of the U.S. Department of Education in the 1970’s, the situation began to change.

Follow the money

How many times has the leading character told his underling to “follow the money?” I suspect these three words provide the path to answers for way too many issues. And education issues are not immune from money.

Every time I read an article about the ISTEP debacle, I intentionally look for the importance of educating students. Oh, it shows up – eventually. But the majority of the article discusses teacher contracts, federal money, cost of tests, outside vendors, computer problems – you get the picture.

Last week an article in my local paper noted that schools are required to administer an annual standardized test in order to receive federal money. I find that to be very odd considering that according to the U.S. Constitution all powers not specifically granted to the federal government go to the states. And since education is not mentioned in the Constitution . . .

Is there a solution?

There is always a solution, but like any, it will not be easy. Parents must again take over the education of their children. Not in the literal sense, although that does explain the exploding growth of homeschooling, but by actively participating in the process.

Much like the grass roots anger that has surfaced during the Presidential contest this year, the time has come for parents to push back against the bureaucrats in Washington, DC and their largely puppet local school boards.

Local school boards have little real control because they do not want to do anything that may draw the ire of politicos. Note I did not say the school board was concerned about drawing the ire of parents.

Parents have become too comfortable just letting the schools do whatever “they” deem is in the best interest of the children.

One more comment – the teachers have nothing to do with this.  They are at the mercy of the system. Wonder why we have a teacher shortage?

 

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The Renée of Renée!

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Hi, everyone! A little over three years ago I began this blog mostly to fill my personal desire to write! Unfortunately, over the course of time I have been remiss in providing regular posts.

So . . . this is my rebirth and the rebranding of the blog. Ironically my name, Renée, means reborn, come back to life!

First – the old blog was called “Renée’s Blog!” BORING!!!!

New title – “My Take!” Sounds a bit presumptuous, but it does clearly explain what the blog will discuss. It will be my take on all topics educational, especially when they touch children aged four through grade six.

. . . . in the beginning

I attended a very traditional mid-twentieth century elementary school named after the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. It was a traditional two story red brick building with a basement, terrazzo floors, large windows, no air-conditioning, and a very strict principal, Mr. Pitman.

I was only called to Mr. Pitman’s office one time – in the fourth grade. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Pritchard. I was terrified. I can still vividly recall the dress I had on that day. Girls only wore dresses then. I also vividly recall why I was summoned. I will not share that because to this day I am ashamed.

I loved school and with every passing year of elementary school, I was convinced that was the grade I wanted to grow up and teach. My mother was a teacher so I had a good role model.

. . . . things change

But plans and goals change and I majored in English and minored in French in college. My first teaching position was in a junior high school in Florida. I taught both French and English. Not only was that fulfilling, but I was living in Brevard County. That name may not ring too many bells, but I suspect the Kennedy Space Center does.

The first launch I witnessed was the one that resulted in fellow Purdue alumna, Neil Armstrong, walking on the moon. The last space related activity I saw, prior to returning to Indiana, was the arrival of the first space shuttle to the Cape. Between those two major events, I got married and had children.

Life often sends us on a detour and my return “home” resulted in a career detour. While interviewing for a teaching job, my dad asked me to help him out in his small business. The small business used lasers to cut steel – obviously not a career path I had intended.

And now . . .

Although that detour lasted 25 years, I never lost my passion for education. I fed that interest through multiple volunteer activities. After some major life changes, I returned to college and earned my MA in Education.

It was during that pursuit that I became very interested in the plight of today’s young children trying to navigate the educational wilderness.

And that, my friends, are the seeds that led to the founding of j&R Tutoring Academy and “My Take!”

Stay tuned to see what I take on next. And share with your friends!

Who Should be in Charge?

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With the presidential race already in high gear, everyone whether they have school age children or not, should pay attention to what each candidate says about education.

Generally, Democrats favor Common Core, the US Department of Education and control of education primarily from the federal government. With a few exceptions the Republicans do not favor Common Core. Some have gone so far as to say they would disband the Department of Education; thus eliminating federal monetary control.

There are many different iterations of the generalities that I have noted, but I will leave that to you to discover.

What I would like for all my readers to learn for themselves is who among the numerous candidates favors your position on education?

Education seems to be in turmoil in the United States. If we, as parents and grandparents just leave it up to the politicians, then we will get whatever the winner wants.

I know I have commented on this previously, but the Constitution does not mention education at all! The Founders believed that education was best administered locally, by those closest to the children.

We have, over the past 40 some years, veered completely off course. Once the US Department of Education was established during the Carter years, the control of education has been more and more controlled at the national level.

Although the percentage of funding from the federal government is minor, it is enough to cause schools to alter what they do for fear of losing that funding. The school lunch program is a perfect example. Seems hardly a week goes by when there is not a story about a school that is losing money, but not feeding nearly as many students. Why? Because kids are not going to eat what they don’t want! I have heard stories where teachers or administrators have actually taken food from home away from a child because it did not match the schools’ food policy!

Yes, I know that obesity is a real problem. I just don’t believe that it is the responsibility of the school to dictate what each child should eat. And yes, I know there are students who are not able to bring a lunch from home. There are always exceptions. But generally speaking, as we allow the public schools to take over more and more parental responsibilities, where does it stop?

Not only do children learn at different rates, but their metabolisms are not the same!

Perhaps if schools had not been required to disallow any game or remove any playground equipment where a child might get hurt, then they would spend more time running and playing on the playground! Exercise is a great way to burn off excess calories!

Common Core standards want every child in every school everywhere to learn the same thing at the same time at all times! The school lunch program dictates what schools can serve. Where do the parents come in?
As nearly as I can tell, parents have little to no input in how their children’s school is operated on any level!

Then there is the testing! Testing is no longer used to gauge what a child has learned; they are used to determine whether or not a teacher gets to keep her job! Teachers, by necessity, must spend an inordinate amount of time preparing and administering standardized tests of one kind or another. Imagine if they could just teach and then prepare a test to truly learn what each child has learned, or failed to learn.

For the generations that won WWII, went to the moon, developed the atomic bomb, discovered the magic of computers, etc. this teach and test method seemed to work pretty well.

Of course, I could go off on computers in the classroom right now, but I will save that for another day.

As long as it is okay with you to have your child’s education determined by politicians in Washington, who are beholden to lobbyists who have funded their elections, then pay no attention to the current election process. However, if you believe, as I do, that education should be overseen by the parents and local persons whom the parents can easily access, then please pay attention to what the candidates are saying.

What Was I Doing?

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Or thinking? Or not thinking? These questions pretty much describe last week for me. Never got the last blog finished. There was actually one day when I prepared for a student who was not scheduled for that day!

I’m sure we’ve all had those weeks when we’ve spent more time trying to figure out what we were supposed to be doing, or what we should have done than actually doing it.

At j&R Tutoring Academy we have students from numerous school districts as well as Montessori and home schooled. Some began school last week and the balance will return this week. So we are transitioning from the summer schedule to the winter. Of course, no one is changing on the same day.

I was beginning to think I’d totally lost it! Add to that j&R was an exhibitor at the Hamilton County Sports Complex Family Fun Day on Saturday, and I had to get our materials together. Needless to say by Saturday night, I was exhausted. This week life should return to “normal.” Whatever that is!!

All of this chaos got me to thinking about the students whose daily lives are like this. They can’t remember where they put their backpack. They have misplaced their homework. They have trouble remembering words they knew yesterday. They feel like something is wrong with them.

My chaotic week was due to a confluence of events and changes to my normal routine that temporarily overwhelmed me. For children this state of chaos may be an indicator of other problems.

I knew my chaotic week was going to pass and life would return to normal. However, last week I was quite tired. The stress of everything just wore me out. Try and imagine a six or seven year old whose every day is like this! I did not have anyone telling me to do better or questioning why I had not gotten something done in a timely manner. Youngsters, who are already stressed, usually have one or more adults adding more pressure.

Too often mom and dad and their teacher think the child is not trying, or that they intentionally misplaced their work. When pressed for an explanation, the child says s/he doesn’t know. This can escalate into a much more confrontational situation. The child may promise to do better, and then repeat the same behavior, much to the chagrin of the parents and/or teacher.

This type of problem can be an indicator of dyslexia. Although most have heard the word, many may not really understand what it is. There are many types and degrees of dyslexia, and I won’t try to explain them at this time. For this discussion suffice it to say that dyslexia interferes with normal learning.

I bring this up now because as schools begin, if your child exhibits learning behaviors that seem out of the ordinary, please don’t assume s/he is just acting out. There may be an underlying problem.

Most public schools are very reluctant to test children in the early grades. They will tell you that they do not want to label a child so early. They will remind you that young children mature at different levels and that you should just give your child some time.

All of this is quite true; however, everything I have read on dyslexia states that the earlier a child begins alternate instruction, the quicker they will be able to learn to adapt. Sometimes it is as simple as an alternate method of instruction.

The majority of children are visual learners, but for those who are not, the early grades can be over whelming. Dyslexia does not mean that a child is not intelligent. It just means that they must be taught in a way that meets their needs. Imagine, if you will, being six years old in a classroom where the walls are plastered with visuals! The other students see letters, numbers, signs, etc. You just see confusion. Then compound that with the stress of not being able to answer questions about those visuals.

Taking this a step further – you know each morning that the same situation is going to happen, and you do not know how to fix it. You also don’t understand why the other kids can see what’s there, and you cannot.

As I noted, my stress from last week caused me to be really tired every day, and I knew why it was happening. A young child has no answers.

So as your children return to school, please note if your child exhibits any behaviors that seem different to you. There may not be any problem, but if there is, it’s always better to address it early.

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What Is Really Happening?

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I am just one small voice in the educational wilderness, but I hope those of you who read my blogs will listen.

Those of us who live in the relative safety of the Midwest haven’t yet experienced some of the educational “trends” occurring on both coasts. Unfortunately, like all trends they tend to originate on the coasts, but find their way inland.

One of the many characteristics of us Mid westerners is that we tend to be trusting people. If the government or the “school” tell us that a particular new educational program is critical for our children, we usually go along with the plan. Although home-schooling is growing, the majority of parents entrust their children’s education to public, private or religion-based schools.

The majority of the curriculum requirements of the public schools also apply to private and religion-based schools.

This week I happened upon a blog by Peter Greene, “The Human-Proof Classroom” about a new instructional concept called “The No Nonsense Nurturer Program.” That blog linked to another written by a teacher who had been instructed on how to use this method. She formerly taught in Lawrence, MA schools. This teacher, Amy Berard, was let go by the system because she was not the “right fit” for the school.

There were 143 comments at the end of the blog,“I Am Not Tom Brady,” by Ms. Berard which was posted on July 22. One can usually tell when a blog hits a nerve by the number of comments. Hers must have hit the entire nerve system!

Now I’m sure you are wondering what a “human-proof classroom” is. First a teacher is required to instruct with an earpiece. Three other “teachers,” supposed experts in the field of the “No Nonsense” program, are in the back of the room – at all times. If the teacher uses a voice inflection, one of the back-of-the-room “teachers” reminds her not to use voice inflections.

What! You must be saying to yourself. That is because the NNN (No Nonsense Nurturer) program requires the instructor to speak with no voice inflections or have a personality. Essentially the teacher is to be robotic. The teacher is also not supposed to speak in complete sentences, but rather just to give commands – sit down, no talking, page 23, problems 1 – 10.

Another primary element of NNN requires the teacher to provide an ongoing commentary of what the students are doing, i.e. Emily is done; John is on the third problem; Jane is sitting quietly. Ms. Berard said this particular aspect resulted in the students providing ongoing commentary of what she was doing.

Of course the students were curious why she was wearing an ear piece. The voices in the back of the room told her to say that she was just like Tom Brady – receiving instructions from the bench. Wow! Doesn’t that make you feel confident? Your teacher has to have three people in the room to tell her what to do!!!

The initial blog also connected to another site where an eleven page syllabus explained the NNN program a bit more concisely. This syllabus would have been hysterical if it had not been so pathetic. One line that really stool out to me was that the teachers would learn a new way of caring. Anyone care to guess what that means?

In addition to the school in Massachusetts in the story, the system is also being used in Denver, New York City and Cleveland. Guess it’s closer than we thought!

If you want to know more about this latest abomination of education, go to the website for the Center for Transformational Teacher Training.

So, my message to you is – pay attention to what is happening in your child’s school. Just because a program is new or is being used in large school systems in large cities that does not make it a good idea.