I know- I’m tired on a Friday afternoon too so there will be no 2,000+ word think piece on the history of America today.
Just a quick little piece to pontificate about over the weekend.
*deep exasperated sigh* alright, let’s just get this over with.
Let’s talk a little bit about feedback loops.
One of the reasons I’m starting to get so fired up about about education is due to the simple idea of a feedback loop. I’m not in the mood to go about making graphs and shit so I’ll just use arrows to show it.
Personal factors -> Behavior -> Environmental influences
I was given an example in class the other day that went a little something like this:
Personal factors: student with low self esteem
Behavior: student gets bad grades
Environmental influences: teachers/parents scold student for getting bad grade
And the loop continues.
It’s a fairly easy concept to understand. Personal factors lead to certain behaviors and then those behaviors are either reinforced or corrected by environmental influences.
I think it’s ridiculous to try telling a student with low self-esteem “Hey… stop that” and expect to witness any change. Similarly, a teacher giving a student a good grade purely out of sympathy and not the quality of their work is not setting them up for the phrase we hear all too often:
The real world (which, by the way, doesn’t saying “the real world” imply that we live the first 22 years or so of our lives with some sort of distorted fantasy view of life? Sorry, I digress).
For those reasons, I think the best option for dramatic change regarding struggling students is to alter the environmental influences around the student.
If a kid is struggling in class and getting bad grades maybe the best option isn’t to scold them and say “You didn’t study hard enough” , “Try harder”, or the ultimate shitty teacher cop out of “I don’t give grades you earn them” (we know, but as a teacher you’re expected to- um- how should I say it? Teach).
Maybe the best option is to… oh…I don’t know…
Provide some positive feedback that focuses on the reality of the negative behavior but takes into account personal factors in order to determine a method of improvement best tailored to that student going forward.
I know- it’s a crazy concept.
You might think that most schools already do this but I disagree.
The smart kids are smart and the “dumb” kids?
They’re just not trying hard enough.
A teacher doing this just one time is not going to be enough to inspire change. It has to be a daily effort for every student in their classroom.
But Pat these teachers are grossly underpaid- why should they bother going the extra mile?
Did they think education was a gold mine industry going into it?
If you’re a teacher and you’re not giving total effort to every student in your class please do everyone a favor and just stop teaching. I would hate to think that you went through all those years of schooling and got all those fancy degrees only to hand out a worksheet and scroll through Facebook the rest of class.
If I don’t say it; who will?