The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Results Of My Efforts to Find the Truth About Successful Education


Although there was much to read about the test results of various countries–and their explanations of why they they were good or bad–I think I got a pretty clear picture of what has happened and why. Today I will do my best to explain the international student testing situation as I see it.

In the first place, I must tell you that I gave very little attention to small countries with few schools because their situations are not normal. For the most part they are able to teach and test only a fraction of their young people, and those are likely to be the wealthiest or the best situated ones. So my examination was only of the large or wealthy countries with many schools that accepted students of all backgrounds.

Secondly, almost all the articles I read included only the opinions of the writers and quotes from important people in various countries. For that reason I tried to eliminate them entirely and consider only factual information such as the differences in numbers of students or school sizes, test scores comparisons, school restrictions on types of students accepted, and the influence of individual, family, area or country wealth.

What this all came down to was my focus on England, China , and the United States and their reports of factual information.

TO BE CONTINUED—IF I LAST THAT LONG

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Unfortunately…


Yesterday my computer died as I was beginning to write, and I wasn’t able to fix it. However, someone–I think my son, Alan–sneaked in while I was at dinner last night and did the job for me. So, I will begin writing again this morning and–I hope–finish later today. I thank all of you for your patience and support.

Joanne

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My Request for Help On A Very Important Matter


Dear Readers,

I am not ready to post today because I am still working to find important information that I want to write about. Over the past week I have been reading articles to help me understand why American students have consistently scored lower on international tests than students in other countries. I am not ready to accept the assumption that our children are lazy, stupid, or just poorly taught by their schools. And I certainly do not want to accept the decision of many of our politicians that our schools need to improve drastically in various areas.

Because I still need to read more articles, judge their’s validity, and—I hope— get some help from you readers, I expect to be able to post a piece about what I’ve learned a week from today. Any help from readers would certainly shorten the time needed and improve the quality of my writing.

Sincerely,

Joanne The Treasure Hunter

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My Admiration for a Dedicated Supporter of Good Schools and a Critic of Bad Ones


Two days ago I read some new information about the actions of charter schools in Diane Ravitch’s blog and responded to it. I won’t repeat what I wrote then because you can view it at its source. But I will explain why I chose to write about the same topic here today and how deep my feelings are about bad educational practices, plus how respectful I am of those who make us aware of them.


Unfortunately, too many charter school owners and oporators are unrealistic or immoral in the management of their schools. But more unfortunate is their power of to draw in students, abuse them, and destroy their chances for success, while earning big money and public respect.

We have to understand that– despite their claims,–many charter schools were not created to help children who weren’t being well served in public schools, but to get significant amounts of government money they could use without accounting for it. We also need to recognize that more charter school students drop out– or are driven away– than those who go on successfully to college and careers.

I take the trouble to express my personal opinions today because there are still too many charter schools all over the country that persuade parents to send their children to them, but do not serve those children as promised. In addition, there are too few education experts who investigate charters and tell us the truth about them. Because Diane Ravitch has been the most consistent follower and accurate informer about charters, we should recognize her dedication to that cause and honor her.

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How Children and I Learned to Learn


Over the past month I’ve had a lot of trouble finding anything about education to write. So I decided to go back to some of my past experiences that I haven’t written about before (I hope). Today I will recall my first teaching job, which looked like becoming a disaster, but turned out to be a success.


In 1952, the year I graduated from college, I took an extra class to become a teacher. My first job was in a third grade class at an elementary school in a small town where most families had low-paying jobs, and their children were often behind in their learning.

When I went to look at my new classroom for the first time I saw that it had bare walls, beat-up desks, and only one set of reading books for the 28 children assigned to learn there. When I spoke to the principal about the scarcity of teaching materials and decent workplaces in my classroom he assured me that everything had worked out fine for the previous teacher and would certainly do the same for me.

Fortunately, another teacher was willing to lend me some books she wasn’t using and materials she didn’t need. But, since I still needed more, I also went to a nearby public library to tell them about my problem, and they agreed to lend me books from time to time. On top of that I created a weekly newspaper that I printed on the chalk board for my students to read. It told of some good things they had done recently or that had happened outside of school. Their job was to read it silently and then discuss it as a group with me.

Near the end of that school year my students and I felt that we had made good progress and wanted to show it off to parents. We decided to produce a play that involved making puppets and clothes for them, then learning how to manipulate those puppets on the stage for the whole school to see. The only thing I didn’t ask the children to do was recite the puppets’ words because it was too much for them to handle all at once. Instead we pre-recorded their voices on tape.

I have long forgotten the details of that play, but below is a newspaper’s photo–unfortunately damaged over time–of my students with their puppets and an explanation of their performance. Although I am still proud of my teaching, I am even prouder of what my students accomplished that year.

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