[AAACE-NLA] Inching Along to MLC education policy
tsticht at znet.com
tsticht at znet.com
Mon Mar 8 16:19:44 EST 2010
March 7, 2010
Inching Toward a Multiple Life Cycles Education Policy
International Consultant in Adult Education
Recently I picked up a new book at the bookstore, browsed through it, and
then I thought, sooner or later they always come back to it!
In the book I learned that Diane Ravitch, advocate of standards, testing,
accountability, and school choice, had changed her mind. In her new book
(The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Basic Books,
2010), she says she was wrong about all that. Instead, she lists a number
of things she now thinks would be useful for helping students achieve
better in school, and then she comes to itparents are their childrens
She cites research indicating that before they enter school children from
families with professional parents are exposed to tens of millions more
spoken words than children from welfare or working class families. This
massive exposure to oral language provides a basis for more effective
learning of literacy later on, contributing to the achievement gap between
children of these groups. Much of our educational policy and billions of
dollars of compensatory education is aimed at closing this gap.
When I got home from the bookstore, I picked up the mail and found the March
2010 Policy Notes from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). I was amused
to find that educational researchers have discovered that much learning
occurs outside of the school classroom and this may affect academic
achievement in school!
Not much further into the Policy Notes I came across it again, the need for
intensive parental involvement in childrens education. According to
Heather Weiss, director of the Harvard Family Research Center, quote: And
nobody needs to hear that message more than some of our economically
disadvantaged, socially marginalized families. end quote.
What made me somewhat amused about all this was my recall of the 1908 book
by Edmund Burke Huey (The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading, MIT Press,
1908/1968) in which he commented both about the relationship of oral
language to learning to read well, and the need to educate some parents
about how to help improve their childrens reading and school achievement.
About oral language Huey said, quote"The child comes to his first reader
with his habits of spoken language fairly well formed, and these habits
grow more deeply set with every year. His meanings inhere in this spoken
language and belong but secondarily to the printed symbols.To read is, in
effect, to translate writing into speech." (Huey, 1908/1968, pp. 122-123).
end quote. Diane Ravitch has now brought us up-to-date on this!
About parents and learning outside the school, Huey said, quote "Where
children have good homes, reading will thus be learned independently of
school. Where parents have not the time or intelligence to assist in this
way the school of the future will have as one of its important duties the
instruction of parents in the means of assisting the child's natural
learning in the home." (pp. 311-312) end quote. Educational researchers
convened at ETS have now brought us up-to-date on this!
So, over a hundred years later, Hueys advice rises to the fore again. And
once again there they are---the parents! Slowly we are inching our way
toward a Multiple Life Cycles education policy that recognizes that
educational policies do not affect only one generation but through the
intergenerational transfer of motivation, attitudes, character, language,
and literacy they may affect the educational achievement of lives across
For this reason we need to invest a great deal more in Americas Adult
Education and Literacy System (AELS) which largely serves the economically
disadvantaged, socially marginalized adults that Weiss addresses. This
investment can provide returns not only in increased productivity and tax
revenues, health cost savings, and improved civic participation by adults,
but also in the increased educational achievement of the adults children.
As both Ravitch and the ETS Policy Notes suggest: good adult education for
parents is the backbone of good school achievement by children. In short,
the real head start for children starts with the heads of the parents. I
hope we dont have to learn this lesson again another hundred years from
tsticht at aznet.net
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