What happens to kids between youth and high school?

Why do my high school students only want to know the answers?  Why don’t they help each other learn?

My boys (5, 3, and 1) are very interested in the world around them.  So are their friends.  What happens before they reach high school?  Can I do anything to reverse this process?

At the park today, my oldest was practicing his monkey bars, and he was actively encouraging kids he just met to learn how to do it, which is exactly how he learned.  My three-year old was mooching some swinging lessons from the parent beside him, while I tried to push two boys on the swings while holding a 1 year old.  He wanted to learn, and was eager to see advice from a knowledgeable adult.  My one-year old was the consummate explorer, as every child is.  So, what happens?

Why do students resist working in groups?  Why don’t students want to help their peers who struggle, voluntarily?  Why do students only expect answers from the teacher and not mooch from the environment around them?  Why do students stop exploring and inquiring?

What is so broken with American education that natural aspects of young kids virtually disappears by the time the kids reach high school?

I know that’s the million dollar question, but educators cannot just ignore the fact that this happens.  While I don’t know the fix, I am willing to try everything in order to get results.

My oldest son has learned SO MUCH in his first four years of life.  Freshmen enter high school as mature, young-adult learners.  Why cannot we get as much growth from these young adults all parents get from their 0-4 year olds?

These two questions frustrate me entirely.  American education must be doing something wrong.

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2 thoughts on “What happens to kids between youth and high school?

  1. Will Richardson June 19, 2012 / 6:57 pm

    Hey Justin,

    Congrats on starting the blog! Hope you find the process enlightening.

    This is a great post, and it begs a question many of us are asking. But I think you know the answer, don’t you? Especially since you teach at DASD STEM. We take choice away. We deliver education. We work to make every child able to do pretty much the same thing. Does any of that sound like a recipe for instilling a passion to learn? What I liked about my short visit to your school was the sense of real choices that students had. And the trust that teachers put in their hands. Keep creating spaces where that’s possible and you’ll help your kids immeasurably.

  2. Andrew. June 26, 2012 / 8:02 pm

    Hate to be cliché here, but a lot of it is because of bullying. From an early age, a good deal of kids are picked on to the point where they no longer want to socialize with others, in fear of more harassment. This is especially prevalent in grades 5-8, where bullying reaches its peak. Even though kids mellow out after those years, we’re still left with the “Trust No One” mentality, that often results in asocial behavior. Many students want to learn more, but fear judgement from peers. It’s not that kids don’t want to learn, it’s that we fear the social consequences. Granted, the delivery of the information in class could use some rethinking, so that kids are more eager to learn, but I honestly don’t think it’s the system’s fault, so much as it is the students’. The real million dollar question here is,
    “How do we eliminate the “Trust No One” mentality, and open the floodgates to higher level education?”

    Just my two cents on the post.

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