Is it the student or the curriculum?

October 7, 2021

Many Americans send their children off to school every day. In the USA the majority of citizens send their children to public schools. The work load many parents have may keep them from being as diligent when pertaining to their child’s education. This negligence by parents has lead to many districts around the country adopting a cookie cutter approach to education. In 2021 parents need to monitor and demand changes in the curriculum their children are being taught.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics in fall of 2020 there were 48.1 million students in public schools. What are these students being taught? Should parents wonder and question what their child is being taught or how they are taught? Is the A your child received truly an A and what did they master? These are the questions parents need to be discussing with school districts around the USA.

Many districts use a cookie cutter approach to education. The curriculum is set and all students have to conform and be judged by this curriculum. This cookie cutter approach is great when making cookies. The cookie cutter approach does not work with children. Children learn in different ways and have different skills. Some students will excel at reading Shakespeare. Other students will fail or disengage in class when told to read Romeo and Juliet. On the other hand the students who succeed at Shakespeare may fail a class where they are required to work with their hands. The failing Shakespeare students may succeed in metal shop or wood working courses. Does this make the student who has the talent to work in skilled trades less of a success than the student who excels in British Literature?

Reading comprehension is a skill that is taught up until 12th grade in public schools. There has always been a push to get students to read more and understand what they have read. Yet, with this so-called push for literacy many school districts demand that students read outdated texts. The books may be brand new, but the stories required for students to read are hundreds of years old. If I want students to read, then maybe I should offer texts that they want to read. William Shakespeare had a great impact on literature. Shakespeare’s impact should be noted, the plays can be discarded. In a time where children have a cell phone at age four who has a desire to read Macbeth?

“You haven’t made people equal, you’ve made them the same!” This line is from Harrison Bergeron. If you go into any public school you will see a mandated district curriculum. This curriculum is supposedly designed to teach students educational skills needed to function and be successful in modern society. How can this be accomplished when many districts are implementing an outdated curriculum? What parents need to do is ensure the curriculum is relevant to the needs and demands of a modern 21st century society.

Not everyone is made for college. Education in the US needs to be adapted to accept this fact. Skilled trades and other fields can lead to a productive life the same way a college degree can lead to a life of mediocrity. The foolish cookie cutter concept that districts around the US employ needs to be trashed. The outdated curriculum that preaches literacy, yet sabotages literary growth with dry texts, needs to get the kibosh.

I am not pushing for more special education (SPED) modifications either. SPED is a cash cow for districts and is a topic for another day. I am not saying mentally neuter the students, Harrison Bergeron-style, either. I am saying find out how to get the most out of student talent. Give more skill tests between second and fourth grade to discover in what area a child’s abilities reside. Districts need to offer more courses designed for those who want to enter skilled trades. Every child has a unique skill set. Educational curricula should not be designed to squash that unique skillset.

Frank James IV © 2021
beingfrankwithfrank@gmail.com

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not of the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper or NCON Communication, its staff or management. “Being Frank” is a bi-weekly column exclusive to the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper.