“Students shouldn’t be sorted, but they should be able to choose”

Nodding’s article on the shortcomings of the education system offers a pretty accurate snapshot on where students potential is falling through the cracks. She confronts how student’s are forced to put aside their talents and passions for the sake of having a lukewarm aptitude in every subject area, which is barely attainable. Simply put, we give up opportunities for a student becoming truly great in one area on the principle that if they work hard enough they can meet our expectations. I agree with the author, and I think she’s right when she says some revisions and provisions need to made in order to allow students to get passionate and interested in what they’re learning. Like she says “A youngster who does not need math for his or her planned vocation will lose little by satisfying minimal requirements and may gain a great deal through the freedom to pursue real interests.” She offers a strategy where there should be bare minimum requirements in every subject that weaker students can opt to strive for while holding them accountable to reacher higher in other subjects.

I think it’s a good strategy, but also find it weird that she didn’t talk about inquiry based learning as a solution. I think her idea, meshed with inquiry would go a long way in improving education. What particularly resonated with me is at the beginning of her article when she is talking about how when people talk about their inspirations and guides they almost always refer to people older than themselves. While those people for sure have an important role in shaping the teacher, we have to also look for inspiration in the kids we teach, and they should be shaping our pedagogy just as much as our own parents and teachers did, because if we only let older people influence us then we can sometimes get stuck in a rut. What I find troublesome is that I’m afraid of what will happen to a students motivation without the “threat” of grades. Noddings says she’s never found it necessary to penalize late assignments, which I love the idea, but it doesn’t seem realistic. I’d like to know how you can motivate a student to hand in great work without the pressure of a deadline.

Overall I felt her article to be quite in-step with my own teaching philosophies. Particularly how she recognizes that “democratic equality demands that all students receive the same academic curriculum. In reality, sameness may be a dramatic example of inequality”, and how she thinks it’s more important to develop a students sense of responsibility by making real choices about their education, instead of sorting them into involuntary streams.

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