One Size Fits All?

Imagine walking into a shoe store where all shoes were the same. Size, shape, color, and function were the same for all choices. Every customer walks out with the exact same shoe as the customers yesterday as well as shoes that will leave the store again tomorrow. Of course shoe stores do not work this way. People have different shaped feet and need shoes that function for different tasks. Apply this to education. Do schools do a good enough job of “sizing up” each student and finding the right programs for them? Unfortunately, most of the time we are guilty of a “one size fits all” approach to how and what we teach our students. We must learn to start with our students and not the subjects or classes. An effective school must build relationships with its students, their parents, and the entire community. We must design our approach based on each individual student and the unique needs we have here in Paris. We need to concentrate on the nurturing of the unique strengths and energies of each student. Everyone has a passion. In order to make learning relevant, we must tap into those passions. A curriculum needs to based on the needs of the students and the community as a whole. The one size fits all aproach makes education an assembly line that tries to force parts for unique machines into a standarized product. It is a system that just does not seem to work as well as it should.

18 thoughts on “One Size Fits All?

  1. We need to get creative. Some thoughts…

    Dual enrollment classes.
    Teacher created online classes.
    Jr. High/Middle school Dual credit??????

  2. How about less generic classes, meaning students could choose to learn content within the context of something that interests them. For example, instead of Eng9L, we could offer Detective Literature or Music As Literature. We would still cover the same concepts and learning standards, but the texts would be specific to an interest. It would mean teachers having more preps (Who threw that?), but I think it would increase student interest.

  3. I've wanted to do what Mr. Ogle suggests for YEARS. I think we could do away with LD English if we had electives instead of English 9, 10, 11 – IF we made sure we just didn't offer electives for our college bound students. Non-college bound students should have the chance to take academic electives, too!

  4. No samples from other schools, but that is because none of them are as forward-thinking as we are. They will be using samples from us.

  5. Between state mandates, time constraints, and lack of funding(?)we are going to have to be VERY creative!!

    I don't like drawing the line between college bound and non-college bound, because at some point one of the "non" may realize that there is a post-secondary program that appeals to them. I personally feel that everyone is not made for college, but college is available for (almost) everyone.

    Establishing tracks such as "Health and Science" "Industrial Technology" "Business Tech," etc, would allow students to work towards a career goal from an early onset. Mandated classes could still cover necessities, but cover subject matters pertaining to their area of interest.

    This is do-able, and from a guidance counselors standpoint, imperative to developing highly motivated, engaged, successful students!!

  6. Staci,
    You have hit on something I have been trying to get across for sometime. Drawing a distinction between college and non college students severely limits some and unfairly labels others. I agree that we could create the tracks if we wanted to. What does everone else think?

  7. Mr. Meister, if you don't mind me getting in on this, I'd like to give a little bit of a students opinion. I think new courses and a wider variety of studies would be great, but without specific requirements such as grade point average. For example, I am extremely interested in becoming a nurse, and believe Health Occupations and Chemistry II would have been wonderful classes for me to take, but the requirements of having a B average overall was a problem for me. Students shouldn't be turned down just by judging their grades from other classes. Maybe if they are truely interested in the classes, a test could determine if they shall be let into the program. With kids not having classes they'd like to take, they lose motivation to try, rather than having a class they like and want to try in.

    This may not completely follow along with your blog so far, but I just wanted to share my opinion with you.

  8. What if we offered classes that met criteria across the board. Would it be possible to offer a class that a student could get 1/2 credit for math and 1/2 credit for english? I like the idea of having 'majors' in high school. I also like the idea of giving students more on-line possibilities.

    We are the first cooperative high school in Illinois. That means that we could also be the first school in Illinois to do things a certain way. The only limits we will face will be the ones we impose on ourselves.

  9. Mr. T's suggestion is very similar to a comment a posted on here awhile back. I would love to have cross-curricular classes to offer our students. I read an article last year about the rise in fiction novels being written by professionals in various fields that contain content area information within the story. For instance, we could have a semester class studying a novel built around economic concepts. The class would be taught by and English teacher and an Economics teacher. Students would meet standards for language arts and business or whatever the case may be. This wouldn't have to end with novel-based studies, either. A math teacher could easily create a class with someone in industrial technology, or a science teacher teaching with an ag. teacher. Basically, the same principle as the co-teaching we met about earlier in the year, except the class would be created for that specific purpose and students would recieve credits for both areas. Now, I think this would work best in a block schedule, which would mean switching yet again, but nothing says we would have to do it immediately. Maybe a pilot program of a couple of classes could be arranged. I'm sure we could manage to schedule the two teachers back-to-back and allow them to have one class for two periods. Just spit-balling.

  10. Jim– You are so right…here we go again. Maybe we were not ready a few years ago. Do you remember why those were shelved? I have a confession to make. This post originally appeared on the blog two years ago. I think things have changed a lot. Attitudes have changed a lot.

    Pam–You keep commenting! Your opinion is valued. That is why you need to be in these discussions.

    Nathan–You need, as well as everyone else here for that matter, to come to what are called department head meetings. We need to change it to a steering committee. If we (I) let this die this time, we may never find the inertia to get it going again.

    Roger– You keep thinking about things. You are going to help us get to where we need to be!

  11. Team teaching, co teaching, whatever you want to call it has always interested me. There are so many things we could do with American Literature and American History. However, it is a matter of getting classes and grade levels aligned.

    I also like Nathan's idea of more specific English studies. We could truly make our English department more real-worldly by offering several electives instead of just the basic English 9,10,11,12. We have started to do that in Sophomore, Junior, and Senior level classes, but we still have a long way to go. It is my vision to have some novels classes, technical classes, and others in the future, and it looks like I have teachers willing to make those changes.

    My theroy is if it is not on the books it can't be offered. Next year we'll have to sit down as an English department, yes that means you too Pam, and work on these changes.

  12. I thought the department head meetings were for department heads, but sure, I'll go to them. Is there punch and pie? More people will attend if they think there will be punch and pie.

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