20 June 2008

Reflections on the Year: 80-10-10

I have written a fair bit in the past about the downsides of public secondary education. I fear that I may have somewhat miscolored the situation as a whole. An 80-10-10 split may more accurately portray the situation, especially with regard to students entering the secondary stage of their education.

Given the public education framework we have at the moment, I feel that 80% of students can be fairly well served in what most would consider “traditional” classrooms. What the “traditional” classroom becomes in the future is open for debate – and ought to be. More on that later.

But that leaves 20%, or 10 and 10. I would say that 10% of potential students do not belong in a “traditional” classroom whatsoever. This is largely because of self-inflicted discipline problems. Regardless of the source of cause of the problems, students in this group must, for the sake of the 80%, be removed from traditional classrooms unless and until they choose to control their behavior and participate in their education.

The other 10 is comprised of students who do not fit or are not served well by the traditional classroom. Students fall into this 10% for a multitude of reasons. Where they differ greatly from the previous 10% is that any (or most) behavior problems they have tend not to disrupt traditional classrooms to any extent. These students are simply better served outside of the traditional classroom.

For all of my soap-box standing and reasoned ranting against the discipline 10%-ers, I truly enjoy teaching the 80%-ers. They are the reason that most teachers wake and walk into the classroom day after day. They are the reason why many teachers spend significant summer hours searching for ways to become better teachers.

They are also the reason to reform the “traditional classroom.” The 80%-ers deserve a rigorous, varied and life-preparatory education that reflects both local character and national heritage. How to achieve that will be an on-going debate, but the reason for reform is clear: the rule-abiding, mainstream 80%-ers deserve nothing less.

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