There is a crisis in the world of education that seems to be growing. Kids are promoting from grade to grade without mastering the 3Rs…Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. The feedback I have received from people around the world indicates this is not a problem isolated to the USA. It is worldwide and pervasive.
There is incredible pressure in the US to graduate a certain percentage of students to the next grade level every year. Your job may depend on it. After all, if kids are not learning, it has to be the teacher’s fault, right? Well, that is a partial truth. Every teacher has to take responsibility for the students entrusted to them. However, some things are beyond a teacher’s control.
You have no control over:
- Kids who are promoted to your grade that should have been held back.
- Kids who have emotional or mental disabilities and have not been diagnosed yet.
- Parents who refuse to do their part.
- Administration that insists on a quota system and does not support the teachers.
It is obviously very frustrating for anyone trying to teach with the deck stacked against them. It is not just frustrating, but is one of the primary factors for teacher burnout. I wish I knew who actually came up with the 3Rs. They were brilliant beyond their years. They understood that there is a basic foundation for teaching that has to be in place for learning to occur. Think of it as the 3 legged stool. If you don’t have one of the legs, you are going to fall, right?
If you can’t read, how do you comprehend written instructions? If you can’t write, how do you communicate with others in writing? If you can’t do simple math, how do you create a budget, understand when someone is cheating you financially, or even hold a job? These 3 basic cornerstones are critical to our health, welfare, and future.
Here is my simple wish list:
- That every child master the 3Rs before they are graduated to the next grade level.
- That every child be required to memorize the basic math tables before graduating to the next level. (Obviously this is grade specific. By 3rd grade they should have memorized the tables.)
Why would we want to promote a child to the next level if they have not mastered the basics? It is sad, but it happens every day. If we are doing the right thing as educators, we will make sure that every child gets what they need to succeed, but if they don’t, we have to be willing to hold them back till they are ready. Better they be held back as a child than to be held back or fail as an adult.
I realize this is a delicate subject and nobody wants to humiliate a child by holding them back. The problem is, if we don’t make the tough decisions for them now, those decisions will be made for them when they are grown. The problems do not go away; they compound. I hope we do the right thing for the kids sake and for our future. Shalom!