Saturday, May 26, 2007

Enrichment vs Acceleration

Enrichment is putting shiny rims and a lot of chrome on a car.

Acceleration is souping up the engine.

One looks good, one performs better.

Ideally you would have enough money and time to do both, but if not... it depends on whether you want to win a race or just look good cruising down the street.


nbosch said...

We could probably continue to argue this for months--but I give up. See I told you I was non-confrontational!! OK, I do have a few more things to say.

Your desire for straight academic acceleration would bore most kids to death--no matter what the subject and at what level it was taught. Kids like to learn stuff they don't already know in all kinds of disciplines--they like to learn differently and they like to learn at different rates and at different depths.

You seem no different than the classroom teacher that reads out of the grade level textbook to students of all abilities--you just want them to do it faster. Not differently for different kids, not more in depth for some and less for others---just faster.

Hopefully, my kids are "pretty" and "souped up" and love to learn. Have a good weekend--N.

Exo said...

"Kids like to learn stuff they don't already know in all kinds of disciplines--they like to learn differently and they like to learn at different rates and at different depths."

That's the entertaining part. I don't think it should be a priority for the school whether or not someone likes to learn and he/she likes to learn. One have to learn a set of skills and knowledge during certain number of years to survive (and be successful) in the human world. School is the place to get the necessary skills and knowledge. That's it. Liking or disliking - doesn't matter.
Acceleration should allow the students with abilities to shorten the time spent on necessary basics.
Enrichment is extra - and everyone's personal choice.

nbosch said...

I actually agree with what you say “One have to learn a set of skills and knowledge during certain number of years to survive (and be successful) in the human world”. But maybe I’m more of a realist. I’ve been teaching for 25+ years and have had my 3 gifted sons in public schools and state universities for that whole time. (They are now grown—a lawyer, a chemical engineer and a philosopher)

I have always been concerned about the lack of academic rigor and the pace of the curriculum in schools, especially grades K-8. I am a special education teacher who provides services for gifted kiddos. I teach in a Title 1 school in a large suburban school district. Here are the facts—50% of our students are children of poverty, do we leave some of them behind in our quest for “a set of skills”? 25% of our kids leave during the year and are replaced with new move-ins, do we leave them behind? Some are underachievers and choose not to perform, do we leave them behind? 20% do not speak English as their primary language, do we leave them behind? Many have no parental support, do we leave them behind? Some are gifted girls who just want to “fit in”, do we leave them behind? Some of them only come to school 3 or 4 days a week, do we leave them behind? We’ve established who gets left behind.

OK, now we have this forward moving group. Some are moving faster in math, some reading, some computers, some history, some science, some art, some music. Are you going to be the person that schedules these kiddos into classes with teachers qualified to teach them? Let’s take math for example…you have 8 kids ready to move forward through pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, Pre-Calc etc. Who is going to teach them? If they don’t take the class at a high school they won’t get high school credit; if they don’t take Honors they won’t get a 5 point A and it will affect their GPA. The teachers certified to teach them have 7-12 certificates, so cannot work in an elementary school. Let’s say, this does work—and you can find a highly qualified math teacher to teach them and they get the credit they need for their high school transcripts no matter their age-- 8 years old, ten years, old, etc. Then what?

They need to be driven to the local college or university for advanced classes, they can’t drive—parents work all day. Are you as a tax payer, going to have your local school district provide transportation? Then what, doesn’t this kid still need Science instruction? History instruction? English instruction? Does he go to grade school for this? middle school ? high school?

Does he need recess? Gym? Choir? Fieldtrips? Does he need to learn how to work with others? Have time to think about what he is learning? Think critically and creatively?

For those parents and teachers who want the “bullet train approach” claiming faster is better, I have seen no workable solutions—just a lot of complaining. If you want changes in your child’s school then lead the charge, if the schools won’t listen change schools, if you can’t afford to change schools then home school. If you teach in a school that won’t listen then change schools, if you can’t change schools then change careers. We are all just doing the best we can. What I do is provide gifted kids with alternatives to low level discussions, slow progress, material already mastered and drill and practice—even if it is only 20% of the week—it’s better than nothing. Have a nice day, N.

Exo said...

I won't argue - I don't see a real workable solution either.At least I don't see one fitting into the modern american education. And that bothers me a lot.
I am a first year teacher teaching high school living environment course to honors 8th graders and general science to 7th graders. I am also a mother of a kindergartener. From my experience (and I got my grade schooling in a former Soviet Union and DVM degree, too), acceleration and enrichment are not necessary at all. Probably, I could be considered "gifted" when I was in school. There was no opportunity for acceleration at all - all classes were moving at the same pace doing the same curriculum all over the country. So since I was " a fast" learner, I benefited by having more free time after school - I didn't have to study much, so I could spend that time on various extra activities - arts, music, theater, science club. Consider that enrichment.
And the set of knowledge in every school included art, music, shop, gym, geography, biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, algebra and geomentry, Russian language and literature, foreign language, and history. All classes alligned in stict sequence. So there was logical approach, not the mess we have here.
I teach general science to 7th graders who suppose to skip a year - 8th grade science, and jump to living environment (9th grade) without familiarity with 8th grade physics and earth science. I had to alter that scope and sequence for that 7th grade so I teach them ALL 7th and 8th grade physics and earth science this year, living all biology part for next year. But that's only one class. Next year I will have to more classes, whose teachers didn't bother that the kids are on accelerated track, and as the result those students will have huge gaps in physics and earth science.
How do I know? This year my students took 8th grade state science test: perfect answers in biology part that I taught them this year, but absolute zero on questions in physics and earth science. Is that acceleration? I don't think so. Is this enrichment? i don't think so. That's a general misundrstanding and lack of allignment from the beginning. I do what I can. But I can't remedy everything.
As for my son - he is bright, and since I teach him myself, he is faster than many. But it would be nice if the school give him the basics he needs and I would take care of enrichment.

"They need to be driven to the local college or university for advanced classes, they can’t drive—parents work all day."
As for that - the school is taking the functions of babysitters. Oh, well.

nbosch said...

Thank you for responding, I have been reading since I wrote my reply to you this afternoon--I was agog at what some people are putting up with across the country-- constructivism (isn’t that what it’s called) fuzzy math, etc. Academics in my district seem pretty traditional albeit non rigorous K-6. I understand your desire for a sequential study in all disciplines and I agree. But, I still don't think that good services for our gifted kiddos are superfluous, sure I wish they were “gifted” the 4 days they are not with me but what I do with them makes a difference.

Assessment is the key to acceleration—hopefully someone in the science department at your school will allow the kiddos to be assessed before they throw them into the acceleration pool head first.

It is wonderful that you can teach your own child what you want him to know but you are kidding yourself if you think most parents in America are "enriching" their kids after school. Have a nice rest of the weekend, N

Dickey45 said...

And this is how the system is still in shambles - it is divisive. Gifted vs. 40-60% of the student "average" population. Gifted vs. Special Ed. Special Ed vs. 40-60% of the "average" student population.

nbosch said...

Your point?

Parentalcation said...

See my comment on the above post to hear my final word on enrichment vs acceleration.