Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oaks-Connections




In her piece Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route Jeannie Oaks argues that tracking or place students in groups based on ability is harmful to students. Oaks tells us that students in the high ability groups have richer school experiences than those in lower ability classes. Higher ability groups are exposed to richer reading material, receive better instruction, and spend more time on learning and socialization.  In lower ability classrooms the teacher main focus is to get the students to sit quietly and follow directions L. This makes me think back to Dr. Bogad’s question, “Is separate equal?” I believe Oaks would say Separate is not equal. This also makes me think of the Shor piece we read “Education in Politics” The students in the lower ability classrooms are missing out on important educational lessons: The ability to think and challenge themselves.

I have to wonder what Delpit would think about tracking. Students in the lower ability classrooms are learning rules (or at least how to follow them) and codes (In a school setting you need to behave).  These students are being trained for the “real world” but sadly they are being trained to simply follow directions, not to think or share ideas or socialize.  Lower ability students are not being trained for positions of leadership or power. Would Delpit consider the fact that they are at least being trained in the rules and codes a success? I wish she had defined this in her reading.

As a student who was in the lower track classes I can say that we were well prepared for jobs that did not require us to think only to follow directions. This worked well for menial jobs in fast food and as cashers in retail. For some of my fellow students they were able to get jobs in places like the Steel Mills making good money and enjoying their job however, for many of us this lead to dead end jobs we hated and most of my fellow lower tracked students who tried collage did not do well because for the first time they were asked to push themselves, think and do things on their own. Not that they were lazy but for many this was a struggle because they were used to just being told what to do.

I 100% agree that separate is not equal and while students in lower track classes are learning the skill to follow directions I feel as though buy being taught as they are the decision has already been made by the teachers what kind of jobs students are going to have. Teachers jobs should be to inspire their students and help them reach their potential not limit it.    

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