Sunday, November 15, 2009

When will the schools "get it" when it comes to teaching foreign languages?

It is well known that children learn a second language best around the third grade. Their brain development is more receptive to new language retention at this time. As a result, it has been shown that children in other countries are more likely to retain this knowldge if taught at this stage of life. Unfortunately, in the Unite States, the majority of students are introduced to new languages in late middle school or early high school. This is why many of us have had 2 or 3 years of a language and little or no retention let alone fluency. In short, it means the time was wasted. What would it take to shift the teaching of languages to mid-elementary school? Would all these high school teachers be willing to change?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's with the heavy bookbag?

My son is in the 11th grade. I used to complain to his school about him not getting textbooks. This year he was put in GT and AP classes. The GT and AP kids get textbooks while the general classes do not (Maybe they need books too?)One unintended consequence of finally getting books to take home -- my son's backpack weighs about 45 pounds. Modern textbooks are thick, use heavy gloss papers and massive pictures have replaced extensive text. Schools pay a fortune for these books too. They run $50 to $200 each and average at $100. That's a lot of money for a lot of pictures. Should school districts demand more reasonable and effective books?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Congress does not want us to know what they will vote on.

Repeated efforts this week by members of Congress to allow the public 72 hours of internet access to either the current health care proposal or even ALL new bills have been blocked by the leadership in the House and Senate. Transparency, the conveying of information to the public in real time, was a campaign promise of the President and many members of Congress. Now, it appears that those who want to follow-up on these promises are marginalized and trashed. What's your take on this?