Saturday, August 28, 2010

Graduation Rates In The Us Dropping: WHY?

Raison d'etre is French for "reason for being," and students who can’t read
feel they have no reason for being in school. Students will start thinking
school is a prison and will behave and act institutionalized towards teachers,
peers and academics. Students get more cynical when the gold stars lose
their luster, and teachers' mendacity about their performance start showing
through the insight of their poor skills and inability to perform academic tasks.
It’s a small death suffered every day by these students, as they see their
dreams crashed on the rocks of reality. We ask students to come to school
daily and give 100% to what they believe is an intolerable humiliation, and we
get angry when they don’t smile and take school more seriously. We scratch
our heads, wondering what we can do when half of our kids drop out of
school. If students can’t read, every thing else is moot.
     Reading Boot Camp is not a twenty day miracle; it’s a way of being
a teacher. My raison d’erte is to never let a student pass through my class
without teaching them to read - period. Twenty days may not do the
job; you may need forty or eighty to get the job done. We can use the
One Star Fish analogy, but that sacrifices too many students to a
devastating future. Students are not going to change unless we devise
an effective way to change their outlook.

     The idea of doing nothing in class for twenty days except reading
may appear bizarre, ludicrous, like child abuse, impossible, or asinine;
yet, it works for my kids. Students see it as perfectly logical and 'buy in'
almost immediately when they see their reading progress or realize they
can actually read. Give a child the most complex video game and
they will go without food, sleep, bathing, and talking to master the first
level. They will spend the next day, week, and month with the singular
preoccupation to master the game. Third-world students who receive
the XO laptop teach themselves to read and write without a teacher
because of their incredible desire to learn. I just focus that same
incredible drive and perseverance into Reading Boot Camp.

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