— Amy Guttman, Democratic Education in Difficult Times
It started when I taught at the middle school and realized advanced classes weren’t actually advanced, and were instead a way for the “good” kids to be unclad together and not have to mix with the “other” kids.
It continued last year when in my on-level classes I still had to differentiate for all levels of students. I had students who struggled with English, kids who struggled with life, and advanced kids who were too lazy to do a summer assignment who needed to be pushed. I had ‘em all.
Then this year I have my first advanced class at the high school level. It’s amazing. I doubt I’ll ever have a class like this again. No behavior problems. And most do their homework. By most I mean 27/30 pretty much every day. They’re engaged, hilarious, and curious. I adore them.
While I know I’m lucky, I also know that their peers are being robbed of these engaged role models. I know the attitude in the on-level classes is that it’s average to not do homework. And in mine doing homework is the norm. I know our percent passing rate in the on-level classes is low, and that every one of my freshmen this year will pass both semesters.
Most of my advanced kids are not intellectually advanced in any way. They’re just nice kids who do their homework. They’re kids who have had good academic experiences. Who are supported at home.
So, our department decided to get rid of tracking next year at the freshmen and sophomore levels, and all students will be prepared for AP classes. The common core aligns more with our advanced curriculum, so everyone should be performing at that level. So, they will be. Because I brought it up to our department and my colleagues agreed.
Today, I learned the middle school that feeds into our school is also doing away with tracking. Because we are, and they agree.
Today, I feel like real change is coming to our district and I am a part of it. It’s an amazing feeling.
Where do you work again? Someone should be following this. Real-time research, yo.
I legit turned it in at exactly 11:59pm. I don’t know if that looks impressive or sad.
So glad that I can take a break from this paper until summer break starts. Fighting data on teacher contracts gets old.
How is taking adderall to help you focus on studying cheating?
What kind of asinine thought processes do you have to go through for that to make sense?
There’s actually a really big debate around this - nootropics. And by “really big,” I mean just within the medical ethics communities.
I think part of the argument it is that if you conceptualize the education system as essentially competitive, taking any sort of substance to enhance performance is akin to taking steroids in sports.
Given, I think there are some real problems with that argument. First, I don’t think that public education should be viewed this way, though I do think there’s some question about equal access (though this goes for literally anything). Second, anything we consume is technically a chemical substance; eating a good breakfast on the day of a test is technically a performance-enhancing activity.
I don’t really know where the line is between what is a permissible performance-enhancer and what isn’t. In the meanwhile, I’m going to keep drinking this cup of coffee to keep me awake to study, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it.