Tag Archives: education

Don’t waste that time!

It’s true! Sometimes, some of us do know what we’re talking about!

Our book, “Voices Matter,” consists of people’s thoughts and opinions. When it came to the topic of youth violence, one of our members was quoted thusly (on page 48):

“If we’re looking for long term answers to the issue of youth violence, I think we need to demand more from our schools. Because children spend so much time at school, that’s where they can build their self-esteem, nurture their skills, develop their minds.”

“The school has a child for six or seven hours a day, ten months a year, and that’s a big chunk of time that can be used to counteract negative influences.”

That’s easy to say, coming from a layperson (and he knows who he is).

So take a look at what an expert has to say:

“Whatever he’s going home to, you can do the kid a heck of a lot of good six hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year … We tie our hands behind our backs when we focus primarily on things about which we can do nothing.”

The expert is Ross Greene, an American psychologist who has developed a disciplinary method that is the subject of an article in this month’s Mother Jones magazine (link posted at the end of this article).

The premise is simple: when a child mishaves, talk with him/her to figure out the reason(s) behind the behavior. Once it’s pinpointed, work with the child to develop alternative ways to deal with it next time. Sometimes, it’s no more than a child acting out because of hunger. The solution? Give them a snack.

When the child gets to discover the motivation behind their action, and develop a plan to modify it, they are rewiring their brain to act differently in the future.

This goes contrary to the belief that the only “reward” for misbehavior is punishment, but it’s tough to argue with results.

Two juvenile detention facilities adopted Greene’s methods, over the objections of staff. Both institions saw a dramatic decline in incidents, injuries (to staff and youth), and recidivism (youth returning to the institutions).

The article goes on to show how this method is working in a Maine classroom. Spoiler alert: it’s working quite well.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help think that this method might be useful in our own schools. How are the schools dealing with disruptive behavior now? Doesn’t this method seem like it could produce better results?

Comments are welcome!

Here’s the link to the article:

Mother Jones article: “What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?”

How to improve our children’s reading and writing skills?

Here is some interesting news concerning childhood literacy and education.

On February 24, 2015, there was a press conference held in Toronto to present the results of a Model School project. The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) sponsored the cost of teacher training by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) for schools located at Walpole Island and Kettle and Stony Point First Nations in Ontario.

The program started by training the teachers how to properly instruct reading and writing. The project schools then set up a ninety minute period at the start of every day dedicated to reading and writing.

The pilot program started in 2010, and cost about 1.5 million dollars to run until it ended in 2014. Close to five hundred students from kindergarten to Grade 6 participated.

The results were eye-opening. Prior to the program, only 33 per cent of third grade students at these schools met or exceeded provincial standards for writing. Four years later, 91 per cent of Grade 3 students had met or exceeded those standards. Compare this to Ontario-wide results, where 70 percent of Grade Three students meet or surpass those standards.

OISE’s Dean Julia O’Sullivan said “the results were phenomenal by any stretch of the imagination.”

It is curious that a key component of the program was to train teachers how to properly teach reading and writing. Is this just a problem with teachers at those particular schools?

One wonders because Grade 3 results for ten schools located in the Jane-Finch area show that only six schools have 70 percent of students meeting or exceeding the standard in either reading or writing. Three schools meet the 70 percent standard for both.

What accounts for the differences? Is it a question of how various teachers have been trained? A question of how resources are shared between schools within the same area? If this pilot project was brought into these Jane-Finch schools, would we see the same “phenomenal” results?