A Democratic Classroom – by Steven Wolk
In this article the author presents many solutions for education reform in a democratic classroom. One such solution is structure which is more than just the physical appearance of the classroom. Structure can also be socially and morally created internal responsibility. It is the teacher who creates and maintains the daily classroom order while the social and moral structure emanates from the classroom community life and its culture, and structure is taught as a democratic responsibility. “Helping kids learn how to live their structural parts in a democratic classroom involves talk – a lot of talk (p. 81).”
Another solution is talk – students should be encouraged to freely ask questions, voice their opinions and share their ideas within the democratic classroom. This will help students understand how much their participation is valued and the shy students will develop their self confidence. Yet with all this talk the teacher remains the one with the final decision. The idea of talk can also be problematic for a multicultural classroom where some student’s culture requires them to be silent and to listen to the teacher.
Some kids are disinterested in school because for them it is meaningless to their present lives. According to the author “Force is required to get kids to work on things that they don’t care about, on things that have little relevance to their lives. That’s what fuels the struggle of school, the struggle that goes on beneath the façade of “school learning.” This quote is a problematic idea that I would not advocate because force can lead to truancy and a high dropout rate in schools. There should be alternative solutions the teacher can use to motivate students to learn. And as future educators one of our goals is to help students become change agents in society not add to the problem in society also to help them live fulfilling lives and to become responsible citizens. This quote reminds me of part V in the One Best System where the students prefer working in a factory than going to school.
“Lessons Learned” by Diane Ravitch
According to Diane if we want to improve education, we must first of all have a vision of what good education is” (p. 230). Thus she provides a variety of solution to improve the educational system. Improving the curriculum and instruction is one solution. She states, “to move toward the vision, we should attend to the quality of the curriculum – that is what is taught. Every school should have a well-conceived coherent, sequential curriculum”. The question I ask – Do all schools have a curriculum or does the textbook functions as the national curriculum?
Another solution is the curriculum should be expanded beyond the basic skills of reading and mathematics to make it rich in the arts and the sciences. In the U.S where there is a shortage of science teachers, who then will be able to teach the sciences in the expanded curriculum. It is only the teachers that are well trained in the content being offered at a particular grade level will know how to teach it. The author also states, “make sure children have a steady set of excellent literature in their classrooms”. I do agree with this solution but it can be problematic for the African American communities where there is a lack of resources.