The feeling of alienation and boredom are commonly associated with school and learning. Is it supposed to be this way or is something going seriously wrong? Nikhil Goyal opens the public’s eyes towards the realities of school for the young learners and asks a crucial question – “why do children hate school?”
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Speaking about Nick Perez’s time at elementary, middle and high school, Goyal emphasizes the feelings of the student related to his school. Nick hated school because it was irrelevant to his life and everything he enjoyed doing. The subjects he wanted to study were not a part of the curriculum. Besides, Goyal quotes Nick saying that he “was denied the right to exist normally” (Why Kids Hate School?: Nikhil Goyal at [email protected], 2012). This statement refers to the attitude Nick received from his school, parents, and society in general when he was diagnosed with ADD.
The attitude towards Perez and his condition demonstrates the cultural incompetence of his teachers who are supposed to show a deep understanding of equity and diversity and their role in education (Wardle, 2013). Nick mentioned that using his PC and studying on his own or among people with similar interests at a computer camp was the time when he truly felt adequate. Instead of grouping Nick with other ADD students, it would be better for the school leaders to organize their computer class, invite a professional who would provide the children with the kind of knowledge they were thirsty for. In Nick’s school educational equity was perceived as equal education for all students, while it has to be the individual approach for each unique child (Wardle, 2013).
Among the 4C skills, Nick’s job as a software developer is mostly related to creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving. None of these skills is adequately addressed in the typical classroom environments today. First of all, if Nick’s teachers were able to apply critical thinking, they would not allow his alienation from the school environment. Critical thinking assumes one’s ability to identify their cultural worldview and biases and well as the ability to develop an open-minded and positive attitude to people coming from different surroundings and cultures.
Instead, Nick was treated as “other” which caused his hatred of school. Secondly, contemporary school environments do not provide much space for creativity and problem-solving. The children are forced to do the same tasks over and over again, copy from their textbooks, and fill in the gaps. No wonder Goyal compares schools to jails based on the ever-present regulations, limitations, and restrictions (Why Kids Hate School?: Nikhil Goyal at [email protected], 2012). Finally, instead of being taught how to collaborate and successfully work with diverse peers, the students are taught that being different or stand out in any way is embarrassing and dangerous.
In his speech, Goyal emphasizes that the number of school dropouts in the USA is huge, and basically, another dropout occurs every 10 seconds (Why Kids Hate School?: Nikhil Goyal at [email protected], 2012). According to the speaker, most of them leave school because it is irrelevant to their lives and to the knowledge they will need. Besides, in cases like the one of Perez, schools push out the students creating unbearable conditions for them. This happens due to cultural clashes affecting the earners that do not fit in the White mainstream classroom (Ladson-Billings, 1995).
As a result, two factors make a negative impact – cultural irrelevance of the curriculum and cultural incompetence of the educators. Ladson-Billings (1995) notes that after several years of mostly fruitless attempts to “insert culture into the education”, the teachers should focus on inserting education into the culture. After all, the United States of America is one of the most multinational countries in the world and often classes include a great variety of diverse learners. There might not be enough time to address each student individually and adjust the material for their surroundings. This is why education needs to be shaped in a way to fit into the multicultural environment of the typical USA classroom and be flexible enough to fulfill the needs of all the diverse learners and ensure their success as students and contemporary individuals.
21st Century Skills Framework was developed specifically for the new generation of students whose academic and ethical needs differ from those of the previous generations. The framework is based on such aspects as Key Subjects and 21st-century themes, innovation, life, and career skills, information and technology (Framework for 21st Century Learning, n. d.). This way, the school curriculum would include all the knowledge necessary for the contemporary human being, and it will also provide the most relevant skills helping the children of the 21st century to fit into their cultural surroundings, have successful careers and function effectively in day-to-day life. The framework is built on the interests of the students and brings together the classroom and real-life environments to maximize the learners’ academic success. The new model of education must connect the school and family of the children, which can be done through parental involvement. This way education will be transformed into an easy, ever-present and ongoing process, enabling the children’s natural thirst for knowledge instead of making them hate learning as it happened with Nick.
In conclusion, the idea of a new model of 21st-century education looks and sounds responsive towards the cultural backgrounds of the learners, targets the teachers’ open-mindedness, bias-free attitude and critical thinking, facilitates parental involvement, and provides a connection between the curriculum and day-to-day life. This is something the learners of previous generations were deprived of which caused extremely high rates of school dropouts among the young generation. This is a clear sign that it is high time for serious changes.
Framework for 21st-century learning. (n.d.). Web.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory into Practice, 34(3), 159-165.
Wardle, F. (2013). Human relationships and learning in a multicultural environment. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Why kids hate school?: Nikhil Goyal at [email protected]. (2012). Web.