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After viewing three videos, three observations were made regarding the state of the current educational system in some of the poorest neighborhoods in New York. These observations highlighted several factors that are causing positive and negative impacts on a student’s academic life. It also became clear that in order to reverse the negative consequences of conventional learning systems and the negative impact of socio-economic factors, there is a need for innovative solutions. In order to enhance learning, it is important to support innovative thinkers who are courageous and intelligent enough to push through with their new ideas even if they are hindered by multiple obstacles and negative actions against them.
Three Observations About Education
It is imperative, to begin with, three observations about the current state of education in order to understand the factors that are making positive and negative impacts on the learning process found in public schools. The first observation regarding the state of education in the United States underscores the limitations of conventional teaching and learning systems. The second observation that was made after viewing education-related videos calls for the need for innovative solutions to overcome the hurdles that obstruct the learning process. Finally, the third observation threw a spotlight on the need to consider the importance of different elements that include: home life, race or ethnicity, and related socio-economic factors.
These three observations were made after contemplating the ideas that were presented in a video entitled Learning Begins at Home that was made available through the New York Times’ official website. The first observation mentioned earlier came into fruition when the narrator identified the origin of a home visit program that is a unique initiative among public schools in New York (Harris, 2011b). After taking into consideration the surprising ideas presented in the said video, it did not take long to realize that the motivation to establish the said program was the failure of the current public school system to enhance the academic performance of children from immigrant and poor families.
In other words, there are serious limitations to the conventional mode of teaching public school students, so there is a desperate need for change in order to alter disappointing performance levels. Before going any further, it is important to mention key examples of conventional teaching methods. One good example is the limits placed on the learning mechanism. As a result, the process of teaching and acquiring information occurs only within the four walls of a traditional classroom environment. Another good example is manifested in the way teachers dominate the discussion or focus only on the delivery of teaching materials without looking into the indirect consequences of poverty and other social issues within the home. This type of worldview came from the assumption that parenting skills and home life are not critical shapers of mindsets and legitimate facilitators of the learning process.
After realizing the inadequacies of conventional teaching methods, the next logical step is to make the necessary changes or to apply innovative solutions. The value of innovative thinking comes from a popular idea that a mentally unstable person keeps doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different or positive outcomes all the time. Thus, there is no motivation to develop new teaching approaches or learning styles. In addition, those that do not understand the value of new techniques or new programs will resist innovators willing to provide new solutions to an old problem.
In the Learning Begins at the Home video, one of the most important facets of the presentation was the revelation that the home visit program was the brainchild of a school principal. It was an intervention strategy that was not popular in the beginning but became an effective tool in the teachers’ tool box. One of the significant insights that people should gain from this presentation is the realization that it requires more than intelligence to develop and implement an innovative solution. It requires courage and self-confidence to create and pursue a unique way of dealing with a persistent problem. Thus, one can argue that only a few innovators are able to succeed. This means that it requires a significant degree of collaboration to inspire and support innovative thinkers that are dedicated to transforming America’s current educational landscape.
The third observation came into focus when the teachers entered the homes of some of the students, and the reaction of the parents came into view. One can argue that the visits had a positive impact in terms of providing teachers a better idea of the social challenges that children had to deal with on a regular basis. It became clear that parenting, home life, as well as race or ethnicity factors, play critical roles in shaping the learning process. In the video entitled An Education in Equality, one can easily make the connection between a person’s ethnic background, and the socio-economic forces that he or she must confront in order to succeed (Brewster & Stephenson, 2013). For example, children of immigrants are likely to experience the negative effects of inequality, discrimination, and poverty. Thus, learning institutions that are not prepared to deal with these realities are not going to figure out the best way to improve the academic performance of students belonging to this social category.
What Impacts and Enhances Student Learning
As mentioned earlier, there are at least three elements that cause negative impacts and positive enhancements in students’ learning, and these are listed as follows: parenting, race or ethnicity, and related socio-economic factors. In another video made available through a New York Times online portal, one can see both the positive and negative consequences of the race or ethnicity factor (Harris, 2011a). In the said video that was entitled A Military Education, differences in race and ethnicity ensure differences in language and cultural values. If the leaders of a particular learning institution are unable to manage the social forces brought about by race and ethnicity, they are going to contend with inevitable conflicts. One can argue that members of a minority race are more than likely to experience bullying. On the other hand, fights may occur as a consequence of language barriers. However, if school officials and the members of the faculty are able to implement an appropriate strategy, they are going to minimize tensions and conflicts, and experience the positive enhancements brought by diversity.
In the Learning Begins at the Home video, the program that was implemented recognized parenting and home life as critical factors that impact and enhance a child’s learning capability. It is imperative to move beyond the confines of a traditional learning system. Failure to recognize the outcome of these two factors can lead to declining levels of performance. This is exacerbated by the frustration of teachers unable to deal with setbacks even after they gave their best to teach some of the poorest children in America. Thus, there is a great need for innovative thinkers to apply their radical solutions to this difficult problem. However, the case of Francis Lewis High School highlights the difficult challenges that innovators had to contend with in order to succeed. In this example, it required sacrifice and commitment in order to persuade the school to support an initiative that became the largest and the most effective ROTC program in America.
After sifting through the insights created by analyzing the three observations made earlier, and the identified factors that significantly affect the learning process, one thing became clear. In order to enhance the capability of underprivileged children, there is a need to create and implement innovative solutions to persistent problems. Some of the best examples are the home visit program and the ROTC program that was implemented by innovative thinkers. The overwhelming success of these two programs revealed the need to transcend the limitations of conventional learning systems in public schools, as well as the importance of supporting innovative ideas.
Brewster, J., & Stephenson, M. (2013, n.d.). An education in equality. The New York Times. Web.
Harris, R. (2011a). A military education. The New York Times. Web.
Harris, R. (2011b). Learning begins at home. The New York Times. Web.