Looking for “Root Cause”
It would be easy to stop at this point and simply resort to the colloquialism, “shape up or ship out!” but we would be stopping too early in our quest for the root cause. The question is, why are the Type 3s unruly and such a problem in class? The teachers agree that they do not possess certain social skills and the motivation that we all take for granted, and if they do have the appropriate skills, they are hiding them while in the classroom. We must remember that social skills are learned just like knowledge skills. These skills are taken for granted because we learn them a little at a time over a large number of years by the people who raised us, neighbors and friends. So, we conclude that there is a major shortfall in these skills that needs to be addressed. Is it too early to expect a fourth grader to be able to change behavior? We don’t think so. It would be very beneficial to the student, future classrooms, and society if they could gain more successful social skills earlier in their lives. Here is an area of their growth for the “educational experts” to comment upon and set a plan in place that will be of major benefit to all concerned. One thing is for sure, it will not be easy to get these children to recognize their deficiencies nor to spend the time to remedy them. Our suggestion is that they attend a mandatory summer session either after the third grade or the fourth grade to allow the school system to begin to mold them into successful citizens. It would have to be a prerequisite for admittance into the next year’s class.
What skills are needed to remain in the classroom?
What is needed is an approach that will provide the skills for these students to live in two different worlds. In addition to their current circumstance, they need the basic skills to allow them to succeed in the world of the classroom; these are skills that will hold them in good stead in the later years in education, in business and governmental jobs and the military.
Listed below are some of the skills that must be mastered for success in the classroom:
- The understanding that education is essential for them to lead a better life.
- The understanding that even though their circumstances may be far from ideal, they can still be successful if they believe in their teachers and their role in teaching them essential skills.
- They need to understand why respect of others is so essential for their own success.
- They need to learn how to manage the behaviors that are brought about because of their life situation.
- They need to understand the importance of self-discipline and self- motivation.
- They need to understand what language is acceptable and what is profane and unacceptable.
- They need to understand how to deal with conflict and how to avoid inflicting either mental or physical harm upon others.
- They need to learn the virtue of perseverance and its importance – learning can be hard work.
As the reader can see, these are not the ordinary pursuits of a conventionally trained teacher. Topic knowledge is not what these students need at this point. They need to learn successful social behavior and to respect those who need to be respected.
Once the student has satisfactorily demonstrated their grasp of these life skills, they will be more successful in the classroom.
An Excellent Book – How Children Succeed
In 2013 Paul Tough released a book entitled, How Children Succeed (First Mariner Books edition 2013). In this book he expresses a point of view that says IQ is important to a child’s success but “character and grit” may be even more important. The attributes listed by the teachers immediately above are “character and grit” as defined by the teachers. This list was created before the publication of the book in 2013. To learn more about How Children Succeed, watch all or a portion of Mr Tough’s talk as recorded on YouTube:
This talk is about 20 minutes long but the essence of his message comes early.
An Example of Growth of Character and Grit
The Root Causes – The Last Why
We take the next step and ask, “Why don’t these students possess the needed social skills to be successful in the classroom?” Three possibilities are proposed:
1. Parents/parenting – their parents have not imparted to them the needed social skills or the motivation to become better educated,
2. Cultural – there are cultural biases in some ethnic groups that do not admire intellectual capabilities,
3. Choice – the students have made the choice to be uncooperative and to produce disruption in the classroom.
Here are comments relevant to point 2 above:
Michelle Obama’s 2013 Commencement Address at Bowie State University, Prince George’s County, MD
Excerpt from 20-25 minute address:
“But today, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 50 years after the end of “separate but equal,” when it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. Today, instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper. (Applause.) Right now, one in three African American students are dropping out of high school. Only one in five African Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 has gotten a college degree — one in five. “
“It is that kind of unwavering determination — that relentless focus on getting an education in the face of obstacles — that’s what we need to reclaim, as a community and as a nation. That was the idea at the very heart of the founding of this school.”
“So I think we can agree, and we need to start feeling that hunger again, you know what I mean? (Applause.) We need to once again fight to educate ourselves and our children like our lives depend on it, because they do.”
There is Hope
As teachers, we know that we can do better. This is a collective “we”. With the school administration’s help to implement the recommendations suggested above, we know that we can reduce the impact of the Type 3 students, the root cause of many of our problems. A byproduct of this assistance will be a dramatic improvement in teacher morale and the morale of our students. More importantly they will begin to reach the levels of success we want them to experience. We know that once the students begin to experience academic success, this success will feed on itself to create a level of pride they have never known.