Posts Tagged ‘School Reform’

By Cameron W. Meredith, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

It is educational and psychological madness that:

1. While everyone agrees on the tremendous value of education in our democracy, we provide only 180 days of public school education.
2. While there is considerable agreement on the psychological principle of spaced learning we jam it all in long school days and homework only 9 months of the year.
3. We all know about newer and encouraging psychology such as Adlerian and Third Force Psychology, we still practice first force psychology namely behaviorism and obedience training called assertive discipline with belief in punishment and bribing.
4. While, since WWII, we believe in freedom and democracy, we still have too many autocratic schools and families practicing order without freedom as well as compulsory homework.
5. While we all agree on the value of cooperation, the helping relationship, and getting along together, we impose competition in our classrooms namely the ABCDF grading system where helping or receiving help is considered cheating.
6. While we all know how encouraging it is to have the freedom to choose and, when we invite and involve students in an atmosphere of freedom and cooperation, they become more responsible and feel that they belong, we are often inclined to tell them what to do and learn with few if any choices.
7. While we do a pretty good job of imparting knowledge and encouraging memorization in preparation tests, we often do a poor job in teaching the use of knowledge for daily living.
8. While there is considerable need for compulsory school attendance in a democracy for thirteen years, there is little agreement on the length of the school day. There is pressure to lengthen the school day. Almost all teachers demand homework as if it is compulsory. Then, as if mandated, there is three months with no school.

There is a lot of evidence that supports the use of Choice Theory and other Third Force Psychologies that focus on maintaining and improving the relationships. Especially staying away from external control psychology (Rewards and Punishment) and instead making use of encouragement (not praise) natural and on occasion logical consequences (4R of a logical consequences). There is a lot of confusion over what constitutes “emotional attachment”. Choice Theory, Adlerian Psychology, Person-Center Therapy, all offer helpful ideas of how to stay connected to the important people in our lives. For instances, empathy is a way to provide understanding and therefore belonging to those we love.

Although, I think the quality of time is as important as the amount of time with our teens. You can spend a lot of disconnecting time with our teens, children, and spouse (deadly habits). In addition, being overly focused on the need of our teens, not only develops self-centered human beings, but also takes away their self-confidence and ability to leave home.

Tampa Tribune, September 11, 1997.
Secure teenagers don’t take drugs

A Washington Post report
Teenagers who have strong emotional attachments to their parents and teachers are much less likely to use drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide, engage in violence or become sexually active at an early age, according to the largest-ever study of American adolescents.
The study, published in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, concludes that feeling loved, understood and paid attention to by parents helps teenagers avoid high-risk activities regardless of whether a child comes from a one or two-parent household. It is also more important than the amount of time parents spend at home, the study found.
At school, positive relationships with teachers were found to be more important in protecting teenagers than any other factor, including classroom size or teacher training.
Researchers also found that young people who have jobs requiring them to work 20 or more hours a week, regardless of family economic status, are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, smoke cigarettes, engage in early sex and report emotional distress.
While the amount of time spent with parents had a positive effect on reducing emotional distress, feeling connected to parents was five times more powerful. And this emotional bond was about six times more important than was the amount of various activities that teenagers did with their parents.