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Why Are Schools Falling Behind? A substantial number of high school graduates are entering college unprepared for the academic challenges that lie ahead. This alarming trend, fueled by a range of factors including disparities in educational resources and the fast paced digital era, raises critical questions about the readiness of our students for higher education. Join us as we uncover the reasons behind this phenomenon. The education system faces significant challenges related to learning retention and the readiness of high school graduates for college. These issues stem from various factors such as disparities in educational resources. Overcrowded classrooms and the rapid evolution of technology. Students often struggle to retain information due to outdated teaching methods and lack of individualized instruction. Additionally, the pressure to meet standardized testing requirements can prioritize memorization over deep comprehension. As a result, many high school graduates find themselves unprepared for the rigorous demands of college coursework, lacking critical thinking skills and the ability to apply knowledge. Is there a decline in learning retention? Education officials said test scores were falling in the 10 years before the pandemic. However, they were mostly higher than the lows of 20 to 30 years ago, according to voanews. com. U. S. children's test scores in social studies, math, and reading have all plummeted since the beginning of the pandemic, raising grave concerns about students future. Eighth graders scores in U. S. History and Civics were both down to 1990s levels, according to The Nation's Report Card, released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Similar drops in reading and math skills were reported in the fall, according to TheHill. com. Joining me to talk about this is Sean Sheestrand. He's been teaching for 12 years. Sean Sure. I don't know if, I don't know if I would classify it as a decline in learning retention. I think more what I've noticed, this is, like I said, this is my 12th year. So what I've noticed is that student behavior and habits are definitely changing. And that's been interesting to observe. Over the course of, a decade plus, this current generation of students, generation is a little bit too vague, but Current group of high school students that are currently in high school definitely have some challenges. I guess you could say, and that. That are possibly getting in the way in increasing levels in terms of them being ready for college. I think that would be fair to say. I don't know if it's like a capability thing. I think it's more of the environment that they're around and the increasing nature of the social pressure that they face with with social media. The access to which they have knowledge and information almost anywhere. Obviously, a big thing you hear a lot of students talk about now is AI and artificial intelligence and how easy that is at home to access and write papers and get answers. So I just think that their environment has changed so much. I don't know if it's like their capability and learning retention as much as it's just more, they're victims of the circumstance, cOVID obviously is a big player in that factor as well. Also joining me. is Dr. Tom Mylan. He's been teaching at an institution for 25 years. A major aspect of the internet was who should be taking internet courses and who should be actually in a classroom and the deal was that originally, I think the estimate was about 2 percent of college students should be taking internet courses and it's closer to, 95 percent take some kind. And of course, we're, with the advent of COVID and everything else, it really changed not only the student, but also it changed the teacher and a lot more teachers are are prepared than would have been before. But the retention is different. It's fundamentally different between being in a classroom and not being in a classroom. And moreover, I think there's a different student over the past 10, 20, 30 years pick your decade in terms of whether or not they feel they're obligated to stay in something that they're not enjoying or they don't think they're going to be successful in and to that extent. I do. I do believe that retention has dropped dramatically. It used to be that because I was teaching distance said a lot of people weren't my my managers would be a little confused as to why my numbers at the end of the semester were so much smaller than everybody else's. Then everybody went to the Internet thing and then suddenly. Yeah. And suddenly I'm looking at my numbers and suddenly they're even with everybody else's. And we see this also with jobs, people leaving jobs just because they're unhappy. And so I think the, I think it's to be expected and it is, it could be my perception, but I do believe that there is less retention. And I think it has to do with students feeling more autonomy. It has to do with the modality and also it has to do with, how we're evolving as a, as a culture and what's acceptable, not acceptable in terms of so called giving up or, taking the hard road versus the easy road, et cetera, et cetera. Also joining us to talk about this is Dan Bogren, who is a coach and a teacher and has been in education for 27 years. I would like to say yes, I can't really, without having like actual data in front of me, I can't really say for sure. It seems to me like. Students don't remember the things, but I'm not real sure if it's like a retention thing or if it's that they didn't coming out of cold, but that they didn't learn them. They weren't they weren't pressed hard enough to make sure that they could demonstrate the knowledge base that we just do these activities and it will call a good sort of thing. Are there really middle and high school kids who can't read, write, or do elementary level math? According to VOANews. com, the department released the scores from a national math and reading test given to 13 year olds on June 21st. 8, 700 students took the test in both math and reading in late April. The results showed a drop of 9 points in math and 4 points in reading compared to 2020, the last year the test was administered. The department's information shows that those are the largest point decreases between tests recorded since 1973. Yes, absolutely. We can blame all kinds of things. Mostly it's culture, it's technology. There's a generation that grew up writing letters and that generation I believe is gone. There's a generation that grew up playing on a, on an electrical device and that generation is here. And the necessity to be able to compose something, to write complete sentences, or to write sentences that are not run ons and stuff like that. I'm an English teacher, so I don't know about the math part, because I could never do math, and I'm just guessing that's just human nature. But ultimately, my my observation is that students have a harder time creating a clear argument. Unless they are wired that way and I do believe I believe that there are people who are math people and people who are English teacher English people in terms of language people and you can teach anybody the basics, but you cannot teach someone to be an expert in something that they are not. They don't have a, they don't have a natural affinity or acuity for because they don't, there's a logic lapse, I have a doctorate and I still struggle with, basic math things because my brain doesn't think that way is, somebody looks at, I look at a crossword puzzle and I'm like, and I look at a Sudoku and I'm like, Oh, it's a real thing and I think part of the problem is, yeah. We've been searching for that magic pill for so long, that system, that curriculum, that, that new way of teaching to to reach these kids that we're not giving a system long enough to take hold. I know as a teacher it takes, for example, I'm working on a new set of storylines for my classrooms and. We've been playing around with these for the last eight years, and I'm finally feeling like I really have a good grasp on it. So if you're a school district that. Brings in a new curriculum and you give it a try and you give it two years and it's you're not seeing immediate results and then you change systems. You don't give a the teacher's time to wrap their heads around how to do it and what the best way to modify it and reach kids are. And you don't give the kids a chance to work with it long enough where it sticks. So we've got a society an education system that is looking for that immediate quick fix so that we can appease the public. We've got textbook manufacturers, we've got curriculum designers that are just pumping out products to, to try to sell that next big thing. And as a result, we're. We're seeing kids that are just spinning their wheels. I know for a fact, I know for instance, my children came through the school district I teach in. And my oldest graduated in 2017, and they learned multiplication tables the same way you and I learned multiplication tables. And he did all right. And then the American school systems got slammed because our math scores were behind all the other first world countries in the world. So we started changing things, we started changing things. And my youngest, who was two years behind him, Came through and they dropped learning math or multiplication tables. They didn't have to do it anymore because that wasn't the way it was this new kind of figure it out with this box and box method and all this stuff. And a, the parents couldn't help. Because that's not how they learned. They had no idea what this was like and what they were trying to do. And B, the teachers didn't have a real good grasp on it because when you change a system over the summer, there's no professional development. There's very limited professional development. There's no opportunity to play with it and tweak it and work with your colleagues. It just became like this. This big rat, this gerbil wheel that or hamster wheel that we keep spinning on, spinning and not getting anywhere. We feel like we're always running, but we're not getting. So the kids are coming to us in the high school and yeah, they're behind. I've got a third of my kids are reading it. A fifth grade level or below and I teach ninth grade and higher math level they're working at a fourth and fifth grade math level. But when you sit down and you work with them, they can do it. If you just give them the time to to work through it. I just, but again, I think it ties back to I've noticed when I have my students, and I read through their writing, just very informal. And I think that's a product of how they communicate. Like they, you think about how these kids communicate and it's a lot of snaps and captions and right. And it's like the grammar and the, these kids aren't writing like composed email that you might think, previous generations were. Of kids we're probably writing a little more of and they're not communicating in that way. Everything's very informal and I'll have kids that in essays will write, will put a smiley face in there, and it's just that's not, you try to help them see that's not really the type of language you use in an essay. You don't write LOL in an essay. But it's also can we blame them? That's the, that's their language, right? That's how they are reading and writing. They probably, this is my guess, this is a total. But they're probably reading as much as any group of kids before them in terms of just the amount of words they're processing throughout the day, right? With the text messaging, they're constantly reading. Could Common Core Math be a part of the problem? Traditional math is about getting the correct answer, whereas Common Core Math requires students to demonstrate their deeper knowledge and ability on how they arrived at the correct answer. Some people believe that Common Core Math, which was designed for a better understanding of mathematics, Has actually made learning math a lot more difficult and isn't catching on like it was believed it would. Parents are finding it harder to help with their children's homework assignments. Because they are not familiar with Common Core Math, leading to further frustration among parents and students. Yeah, it's another good question where I feel like there's, I'm torn a little bit, because my, in the interaction I've had with math teachers, and I have a brother who's a 6th grade teacher, so he's responsible for teaching math to 6th graders. And he has a math endorsement. So he's a, he's a math guy and he would tell you. And I think a lot of the math teachers would tell you that with the common core way of doing math, it actually does help students if they can learn how to do it. It is beneficial for them in terms of just understanding the concept of how this math is working. But I think a lot of the negativity has been parents look at it and go, I don't really know, I don't really know how to do this. And I can relate to that. I have a fifth grader. And she's in an accelerated learning math class, and she's a fifth grader, she's 10 years old, and she brings home math problems, and is here, can you help me do this? And I'm like, I know how to do that? Give me a calculator. I can tell you the process of how to do that, but the way her teacher wants her to do it, I'm, I genuinely have no clue. I don't have the slightest clue how to help her. And so that is a little bit of the frustration I've heard from parents is that they don't really know how to do that, so they can't really help their kids. So if a kid comes home and is Hey. I don't know how to do this. What's their options? They could, you can YouTube or maybe call someone that knows or something like that. But, it's definitely nice for parents to be able to feel like I can help my students, especially the young ones if I need to and that's been one of the struggles is it feels like a lot of parents are frustrated that it's, it seems a little bit unnecessarily complicated. I think would be one way that parents have put it. I haven't had a lot of students complain about it. And part of that might be they don't know. Okay. They don't, what do they have to compare it to, they don't have anything to compare it to, but there's also, I think it's a valid question to say hey. If we, if basically everyone has a calculator in their pocket nowadays and can do this math like that, is it really all that necessary to no, I don't know. I tend to lean towards yes. I still think it's important for kids to develop that side of their brain. But I can understand why some people are like, is this really necessary? Change when I was taking math and I have a science degree, my bachelor's in science when I was taking math You would never use a calculator. Now they're required. And what the student is required to remember, I think, has changed. And so I, I don't, I get the, I think the problem is it's a generational thing. People who are teaching math, they grew up with a set of rules and standards and their students are not agreeing that those things are as important. As their teachers want them to be. And at the same time, the students are learning at a much higher level, in many cases, than their teachers ever did, simply because the technology is so much more advanced. It's a strange thing, do we spend our time teach to make it analogous to my job. Do we spend time teaching somebody to do cursive? Or do we teach them how to format a Word document properly, and it's, it's, I think these skills and things change. And I don't know if it's necessarily, for example, I don't think the brain is changing in terms of what it can or cannot do mathematically. I think the difference is the world is changing its need for particular math or English skills. And I think there's a disconnect between what the teacher expects and what the student is going to need. And I think that's maybe where the younger teachers or the people who are more up on current trends and things like that are going to be much more able to connect those two things to make the bridge between the traditional and the and the new. Common core math and its basis is just what it sounds like. It's a set of common standards. That every student in the United States is supposed to know so that we can say, these are an educated, a math educated, a math literate society. So we sat down and we said, we're going to, these are the very basics, the core disciplines, the core understandings that every student Students should know so that if they move from New York to Connecticut or Connecticut to Florida or Texas to Oklahoma or Minnesota It doesn't matter every kid is guaranteed in the United States They have these basic core understandings and we can all relate it kid can move anywhere and understand know that they're gonna get the same Man, now the way that was taught was up to school districts And that's where it went out the window because every school district Jumped on a curriculum, a new curriculum, a new fancy a textbook or something to try to address these new standards. It's the same math that we've always worked. It's just, we're trying to go about getting kids in this day and age where their attention span is limited and they need this immediate gratification to hook in, to latch into it quickly. And. Learning is a process. Learning takes time, and we've got to understand it as an educational system and as a society that not every kid is going to get it in the first 15 minutes. Some kids, it's going to take 15 days. Some kids going to take 15 weeks. But if we stick with it, and we say these are the common core mathematical and English standards that we're going to hold these kids to, they'll get it. To answer your question, I like the idea of a common set of standard. I think it should be that way in every subject area. And it's going towards it. Science has 'em now, it's called the nng. Ss S The Next Generation Science Standards. Social Studies has them, math has 'em, English has them. But I think that the fact that we've given states and school districts and municipalities freedom in how they choose to address those. Is what's making people a little bit uneasy, because it's not the way that they're used to learning. Do you think tests and essays are still as effective today as they have been in the past? That's a loaded question, because it's based upon whether or not tests and essays were actually... Effective in the past. They were effective for a certain subset of people. Myself, I was a good test taker. I could work through and eliminate choices on multiple choice questions and do very well on those things. I could write. Not everybody can express themselves that way. If you're sitting down with a kid and you ask them some questions and they can verbally respond to that and you can understand that's the, that they get the concept. That's just as good as is a test or an essay. The problem with tests and essays are quick, easy way. It's a tangible way of saying yes or no, that this student particularly understood it. And as a society, it was easier for us to assess people and they're learning in that method. So that's what latched on. The American education system is based upon the business model of the 1800s and 1900s. It's quick, it's efficient, it's trying to process as many students as we can possibly process through in the shortest period of time as efficiently as possible. That's why we settle on these. But there are people that are my age that did terrible in school because they weren't good test takers, and they weren't, they couldn't write an essay, but there's some dang smart people out there that are really good and really intelligent that that don't feel that they were very good at school because of the way we assess them. Yes I don't know about math tests and things like that, but if somebody is, no matter what it is, and certainly an essay is a good example of this, it's a skill like playing the guitar, throwing a curveball, it's something that you would have to practice, you have to understand the mechanics of it, and you have to practice it to get it right, or else you're going to... You're going to keep hitting the batter, playing a funky chord when you don't meet, when you don't mean to and the bottom line is that is that the the ability to take theory and put it into something that shows that you can do something with it, like a tool is a real test. So if a math test is give me a series of problems 14 answers there. I can guess some once in a while, but if I have to show my work. I remember that part from math. Show your work. If I can show my work, it means actually I understand the logic of it and therefore I do have a skill. I have developed some kind of skill. I can do that polynomial thing. Okay, I'm out of my league already. But anyway, I, that I can take the theory and turn it into practice and therefore I have a skill and I can take that skill and I can apply it to something broader. Something different. That's a great question. I definitely think that your traditional testing method is not the best way to have students prove what they've learned. There's some value in it. It's easy to collect data. Don't get me wrong. I would never advocate for the complete departure from some of those things. And in general, kids face tests. You know that they have to just be able to work through that kind of thinking and pressure and, they need to know how to strategically solve multiple choice questions like that's an important skill in and of itself. But there are more effective ways to have students show you and prove what they've learned and what they know, then answering like a multiple choice test or a traditional essay test or something like that. I think this current group of students is, Yeah. They thrive a little more on, creativity being given a little bit more freedom to express how they know they, how they know something or what they've learned about something. And I think a lot of the teaching world has moved more towards like project or portfolio based. Assessment rather than your traditional testing slash essay format, and that's okay. I'm okay with that. I think those are great methods of assessing kids that allow for a little more creativity and maybe autonomy self exploration from the students, which we know, education research suggests that, memorizing answers and facts for a test is not really deep levels of with the same school. Or and deeper levels of learning, for those that are really searching for that. Usually, you need to have some bigger form of students being able to show what they've what conclusions they've come to of their own thinking that they've been led to by the teacher and that they're able to express that in different forms. Rather than just, memorize some vocabulary words or memorize a spelling test or memory, not again, not that's not important, but I think there's better ways to demonstrate deeper levels of learning than traditional testing to see how much has COVID 19 put everyone behind. I definitely do. I do think it was a setback for everybody. I think the younger this is my own theory on this, but based on some of the research I've seen I think My theory on this is that the younger the kids were when this COVID shutdown happened, the more impact it had on their schooling. The kids that were in first and second grade, that was a, that's a real, missing three months of school. And then that following year being so impacted by COVID, that had a huge impact as opposed to maybe, the kids that were seniors and pretty well on their way out the door, probably not as big of an impact. So the kids that I have right now, I have a group of seniors right now that would have been in eighth grade. Am I doing if I'm doing my math right would have been eighth graders when this happened or ninth graders, maybe, somewhere in there. And the group of sophomores that I have right now would have been, sixth or seventh graders at the time. And I think the younger they were when code happened, probably the more likely it was to impact them and their learning. And that might be one of the reasons why, you know, some of the reasons. Research has shown a decrease in math scores for the 1st time since like the 60s. We've traditionally been able to improve these scores slightly and across the board in the United States. Those scores have dropped a little bit and it's it coincides directly with coven now. Is that the causation? It's hard to know, but you'd have to assume that as a factor. It's, it seems like too strong of a correlation to see that chart and see the dip in those charts exactly at the time point when COVID hit and not at least assume that those are correlated in some way. But I do feel like it had an impact. The other thing I would add is Beyond the learning capabilities, one of the struggles that I think we've seen here in Utah, at least, is it's led to some attendance issues, and I think one of the things that COVID created is a little bit of a little bit of a culture of it's not as important to be in class as previous groups of students believed it was and so we are, for the first time, really, in my career, we are, as a school, we're really starting to come back to the board and say, as a group of teachers say hey, The biggest thing that's impacting these kids right now is they're not a lot of them are not coming to class as much as they should, and that's impacting their learning more than anything, because there's a lot of research that suggests, hey, you go to class and you somewhat pay attention. You're definitely more likely to get something out of your classes and to learn better than. Then the kids that aren't and we had the system we had here in Utah was that three months shut down at the end of the year in March, 2020 and then the subsequent year, it was a lot of hey, if you can't make it or you're not feeling good, even slightly just do the assignments online and the teachers were really highly encouraged to have everything available online and that's good. That was a good exploration for teachers to to figure that side of it out, but I think most teachers would agree that well, at least here in Utah. That what that also created were a lot of students where they just thought I don't need to go to class. I can just get the assignment online. And the problem with that is you start to miss a lot of the context. When you're not, when you're not in the classroom, you miss a lot of the context of, background knowledge and all of the types of things that can help you scaffold and build on what you're learning. And if you just do, if you just do the assignment online you're just going to miss a lot of that. So I think that's one of the other issues that this has created a little bit is. Teachers are coming back to the drawing boards and saying, how do we rebuild that culture of you need to be in class and you need to be here paying attention and focused and learning and that's the expectation for kids and they're operating under the idea that like, yeah, I'll, I don't really feel like going to class, but it's not really that big of a deal. Cause I can just get on online and do the assignment. And I think that's a problem. I think. I have a, my partner, her brother is in high school and he went from, he went through junior high and the first part of high school during this time and a lot of it seemed to me to be filler work or just the basic elements of it because they didn't have. They hadn't built, they hadn't developed the protocols for doing online education in broad form for high school. And certainly when you take a single class, single college class, and you make it into a distance ed thing, that's one thing. But to take an entire curriculum of multiple subjects that are taught every day that's rough. And I think there was definitely, there was a lag. I think we're gonna, we're gonna start seeing the results of that as that group gets into college to see whether or not. First of all, A, I bet you they can really. Kill it on distance education if they learned anything certainly better than their forebears, but but we also wonder whether or not they're going to be missing some basic skills or some basic information or some basic theories simply because they said, look, let's if we can get them to do 40 percent of this stuff, we'll call it a, we'll call it a win and move on. We, it's been well documented that the summer slouch is a real thing. That students that the two months that they have off for summer vacation there is learning loss in there. Now, take that and expand it to 24 months instead of two. And that's what some kids have. They have a two year gap in their learning where they, for one reason or another, essentially lost that time. So there is, it's a real issue. Our school happened to be, we were fortunate that we're small enough and our. Numbers were low enough in the community that the following September after COVID shut us down, we were back in school in person. Kids had the option of attending remotely. Those students suffered. Those students had a real a real gap. I have some of them right now as seniors that I had in remote classes that second year, That would have been 2020, fall 2020, and they'll tell you that they didn't do anything. It was hard to make them show up. They would show up, they'd log on to the synchronous classes, and they'd turn off the camera and disappear. You couldn't tell if they were there, if they were not. We were told, you couldn't call on them and make them, feel like they were being... Called out because some kids were uncomfortable and their social emotional learning was being compromised and things like that. The kids that were in person, they lost a couple of months. And during those couple of months, we tried to do as much as possible, but there was a, there's a real gap. I'm starting to see the kids are coming around. This year is the first year I was talking to my wife, who's also a teacher, the other day. And I said this is the first year where I feel like the students are treating the school year like it's a real school year. That the learning is valued. They're, they need to do the work. They need to attend remediation sessions if they're falling behind. We're pretty, this is the first time I would say we're back to pre 2020 levels. How much is technology a distraction for today's students? A lot of skeptics believe that technology, more specifically cell phones, is the biggest problem schools are facing today. Many teachers feel as if they are competing with big tech to gain a student's attention. It's a lot, but actually I work in a computer classroom and I chose it on purpose because I want them to use their phone. I want them to use their thing. I do a flip class. They watch the videos and all that kind of stuff. When they're at home coming to class, we work on it. We watched this movie then they're going to break it up and they're each going to grab a piece of it and they're going to do some research right there, turn it around, make the presentation right there. So to me, it's, it can be a distraction if I had a lecture class. If I was sitting there, with everybody all in a row and everything, and I'm reading my stuff, they're going to be on their phone because they're going to be bored. But in my class, I use it. I think it could be a great distraction, but I think that's up to the... That's up to the, that's up to the instructor. You're right, it's a loaded question, because my answer is how much does a teacher want to make it a distraction? As a teacher, you're in charge of your classroom. And if you choose to let kids have their phones out, have their Chromebooks out, without monitoring what they're doing on them, you're asking for trouble. They're, of course, they're going to be distracted. They're children. I see adults that are in, that have problems staying focused when they're on the phone. I, we have adults walk around this building. All day long with their phone attached to them, worse than the kids. So yeah, it can definitely be a distraction. But if you make it known from the very beginning that phones are not a necessity in the class, Chromebooks are not a necessity. Sometimes we'll use them, sometimes we won't. And the expectation is that they're not going to be out. The kids will follow that. I have a policy. We set norms in my classes and myself and the students to agree upon the classroom behavior and the classroom rules that we can agree, that we can live with. One of my classes, one of my upper level class electives, we worked out a norm that if they're on task and they're working and doing everything I've asked them to do for the first half of the class, I give them a five minute break and I let them pull out their phones and check their emails and check their, snaps and their Instagrams and do that. Listen to a quick song if they want to just refocus, because we're working hard. We're going 20 minutes hard and then we're right back at it. And they're respectful. As soon as I say, okay, time's up, boom, everything goes in the bag. There's no pushback. There's no fight about it. I haven't had to tell a kid to put a phone away this year because they know they've got that time coming up. But if you don't let, if you don't have those agreements, if you don't have that kind of expectation from them, it's going to be a terrible distraction. Now, yeah. I can only control what happens in my class outside of class. If I ask a kid to do homework and they go home and there's no rules about that sort of thing. There's no rules about technology at home. Yeah. That's going to interfere with their ability to get the stuff done, but it's also, you expect those kids to have that access so that they can, I have kids send me pictures of their homework to make sure it's in on time because I have a midnight deadline. So you can use it if you use it wisely and you set the expectations from the beginning. That's a really good question. And I do know that there's been some large scale studies that have showed schools and classrooms that are implementing technology typically have produced better academic outcomes. And so I think there's some research to suggest that technology can be good. It unlocks a level of visual learning and creativity that. We didn't have before. It also can help teachers be a little bit more efficient in their assessment and in their teaching. And it's the language that these kids speak. So they're comfortable creating a slide show, they're comfortable creating a video and making that as part of their. Learning and that's okay. Those are all tools that can definitely be used to enhance the classroom, but I also do think it's a very valid concern to wonder about the amount of screen time kids have. There's obviously a lot of research that suggests that can have an impact on kids. And then also just the general idea of kids having so much technology at their fingertips with social media and their phones. That's a I would wager that everywhere across the country, high school teachers would all alike say that kids having their phones in class is a major distraction. And that's a battle that would be constantly faced. Literally just today, a couple hours ago in my first grade, I said that, Hey let's put our phones away for just a minute. Let's stay with me on this. Let's keep, we were having a little discussion. And so it's a, it's this constant thing of we want to use technology to enhance. Our students abilities to learn and to connect with them in ways that are natural for them there. These kids are technological natives. They've grown up with this technology and are familiar with it and really comfortable with it. And it can be used for really good purposes in the classroom. I've seen teachers use. Technology to do virtual tours of museums and other places and things of that nature that are just really cool. But then, yeah, it can be a little bit overwhelming, and, imagine if a kid's on their Chromebook in every one of their classes, that's a lot of screen time that is concerning as a parent that's a concern for me, are my kids going and just sitting in front of a computer, for large portions of the day, that's a concern for sure. I would prefer as a parent, I would prefer that. That's a balanced approach to having that technology be accessible, but also not becoming something that the kids are just relying on so heavily that they, that are, they're experiencing negative impacts of some of the technology and screen time. A very valid concern for sure. What can be done to get everyone on the right track so more students are ready for college? Yeah, great question. I think it's a complicated answer. I think there's a push in high school, I know in our high school and, A lot of local high schools in the area, there's a push to have kids taking classes that are college level, whether those are AP classes or concurrent enrollment classes, et cetera, where they can see and feel what it's like to be in a college class be exposed a little bit to that learning environment and maybe that level of expectation and the type of work and focus that maybe goes with college classes. The other thing that I've seen and just, this is just maybe getting some feedback from. From students is that some of them seem to think that those classes have been easier than they expected. And some of them have felt that it's much harder than they expected. And so I think there is something to the fact that it depends a lot on what kind of classes and what kind of field and what kind of professors these kids are taking on whether or not they may or may not feel ready for college. What I would like to see is, and I don't know this off the top of my head, but what I would like to see is. Our kids grades in college and retention rates in college. Our kids at what rates are they dropping out of college in the freshman year? And, if we could look at that through the that kind of data through the years, we may have a better understanding of, if these kids are ready and to what level I typically my. My unresearched, to be making up phrases here, my unresearched thoughts on if they're ready or not, would be a lot of them are and a lot of them aren't. And I think that's a problem that a lot of them aren't. How we get those kids to be more ready is, I think we need to get back a little bit to expecting kids to be in class to try to create this culture where being in class is more important getting the learning face to face, I'm a big advocate of that. I know, I don't have a problem with online classes or anything like that. I think there's, those are some good available options for people. But I think that in their public school education setting, it's more important for students to be attending their classes, get the context information that's presented to them, to have face to face with their teachers, be able to navigate some of those challenges and get some of that extra learning that happens in a face to face setting to help them prepare better for college. Even if some of the colleges are online, there's I feel that they would still be, would still would be better prepared if the culture were to take a little bit more of a shift towards, being in classes more and being present more for your classes. It seems to be, on my end, that's such a major issue right now, and I would wager that's maybe one of the factors why there's some assumption out there that kids aren't ready for colleges, aren't ready for universities is, the this is a really in my heart of hearts really honest answer. I hope I don't get flamed for this, but I think it's really easy in a high school nowadays for kids to pass their class. I think it's really easy for high school kids to pass these classes. Extremely easy. You don't even really have to go to class that much. You can just get online and keep up with the homework a little bit and pass your classes fairly easily. And so the bar has been, at the risk of sounding like the, Old guy, get off my lawn type of thing. The bar has been lowered a little bit for these kids and I don't necessarily think that's the best thing for them especially in terms of the conversation being, how do we get these kids ready for college or, grade school or whatever it is they're doing, jumping right into working like yeah. Lowering the bar for kids growing up is usually not the answer. And I feel like that's maybe a little bit of what's happened and it's not anyone's fault. I'm not blaming, I'm not blaming legislators or teachers or parents. I think it's just, blame it on COVID or blame it on a changing world and changing culture. I just, for whatever reason, it feels like that's what's happened a little bit is things have become easier. Social pressure has increased and maybe that's why is there seems to be a lot more social pressure for these kids and they deal with a lot more. Mental health issues. And that's obviously been widely discussed and talked about and should continue to be. But it also feels like at the same time, the academic level that we expect to be at has lowered a little bit. And that would be a concern of mine for sure. In terms of getting kids ready for colleges and. trade schools and careers. First off, I think we need to understand that not every kid is going, it needs to go to college to be successful. We work a lot on college readiness. I like to think of it as college or career readiness. One of the most important things that I stress to kids is attendance. You can't be successful in college, you can't be successful at a job, you can't be successful in whatever career path you decide to take if you're not there. So we have, we do a goal setting thing at the beginning of the year with all my class. And the students have to write down what their goals are academically for the year. And then they list a series of steps that they're going to follow to achieve that. And every Friday I have a little goal check in, I sit down with them, and we talk about where are you? Okay, how are you progressing? Here's your current grade. Are you on track for that? And most of the kids in my classes, especially in my upper classes, mentioned something about attendance. And so we have this talk, how many days do you think it's fair or allowable for you to miss in a marking period or in a a month or a year? And then I relate it to, to a job and we do the math and we say, okay, if you worked a full time job, 52 days or 52 weeks a year, five days a week. You have weekends off. How many days would that be? And let's say you get two weeks paid vacation and, 10 sick days or something. How many days would you be? And you've, if you're missing this percentage of days at school, here's what I would equate to and that kind of opens their eyes a little bit. They're like, Oh, my God, I would be missing 30 days of work beyond my vacation and beyond my sick days. That kind of opens up their eyes. So I think focusing on attendance, Because a lot of what we do here is exposing kids to options. What are the options for you to do? Here's a possible career path. Here's a subject you might like. Here's a trade that you might be interested in. I don't expect a kid to, remember all the different parts of a cell when they're 40 years old. It doesn't matter in their lives, for most of them. What I, what matters is punctuality, starting a task and completing a task being able to write, communicate. Being able to work together as a team these are all, they call them soft skills, but I think those are the things that we need to be focusing on as a school more and more to, to ensure those kids that no matter what they do, they're successful in life. state, which is California, they stopped paying for remedial work. College level. Okay. Made it made it basically made it illegal to teach remedial stuff. So we create new classes with new names in which we stuff the remedial stuff in there, make the student pay extra for an extra unit to basically get the stuff that we're not allowed to teach because they were they of course they all learned it in high school and grade schools BS. I think we need to have. I think we need, I think we need to stop treating education like a business. Be like saying to a doctor, we're only going to pay you if your patients live. A, who are they going to choose as patients? And B what control do they have over their patient who, who is going to smoke and drink chocolate milk all day and sit on the couch and, eat Funyuns. The deal is that education is is a transaction of information and skills, and it is an agreement. And the deal is to treat it like a business is going to fundamentally put pressure on the instructor or on the administration to make sure everybody passes, because if we're only paying you for who passes, everybody's going to pass. And ultimately the, the bottom line is that is that as we move along we have to reconsider how we reach out to students and how students are viewing education. If they view it as a chore, the level is going to keep going down and down in the number of people who want to get into college or even want to finish high school. If we treat it as an opportunity and say, look, This is something that can open doors for you. This is something that can enrich and enrich your life that can make things better, then they're going to be drawn to it. And I think it's, I think it's a matter of, I think it's a matter of mentality and, the more bureaucrats that you get in, in, in the big, in the higher levels who never taught a class in their lives, they have no idea what it's like. They just think the teacher sits around and waits for their three months of a summer vacation. Thank you for watching TFD Deep Dives. For more episodes like this one, please make sure to like and follow. Reporting to you from Fairview Heights, Illinois, I am Ben from TFD Deep Dives.

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