Friday, October 16, 2009

A love of learning

A suggested discussion for the weekend:

To what extent will changes made in PPS over the past few years foster a love of learning among Pittsburgh public school students?


positivity said...

I am sure I will come up with a few more but I will put one on each side of the ledger. One that fosters a love of learning and one that turns a kid against reaching for more in a subject.

A teacher's attitude about the subject they teach makes a great deal of difference to a kid. You might have a... oh... let's say a Physics teacher, who inspires students to not just master the material, but to conquer it and own it. You know in 25 years the kid will remember the lessons.

I hope NOT to cause a firestorm on this electronic page, but again, I am listening to the kids I drive around and they are frustrated at several grade levels with the literature selections or the length of time they are beating the horses of a topic dead. This does not create a long term interest, just a "let's get it over with" attitude.

Questioner said...

But specifically, have changes made in the PPS in the last few years had an effect in these areas-for ex have changes led to more of these great teachers and lessons, fewer of them or had no effect?

amymoore said...

I think that one of the problems we as critics/watchdogs/reformers face is that it is really difficult to quantify these intangibles that contribute to a love of learning. As a parent, I have seen the difference over the years, My kid had such a dramatic jump in the level of enthusiasm for school after starting Schenley. That spark is slowly dying, not due to the teachers, just the circumstances. The Schenley teachers, for the most part, have been outstanding.

Standardizing curriculum and having teachers trying to teach while under the threat of reprisals is not exactly going to be inspiring.

A memory from second grade: the teacher ran out during her lunch hour to purchase a radish because someone in the class didn't know what a radish was. That is the teacher that my kid remembers and goes back to visit, not the one that did extra drills to prepare for the PSSA.

Questioner said...

Encouraging the spark is key. As has been pointed out before, students spend only a relatively small part of their time in school. If they are inspired they will pursue interests for many, many more hours outside of school. To inspire, teachers may need the freedom to "go with the flow."

The idea seems to be that "urban education" is different from what is found in the best and most sought after schools in this country. That is why people will arrange to put in place programs they would never send their own children to.