Education Opinion

Make up work

By Jessica Shyu — February 27, 2008 1 min read
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Dear Readers,

My great apologies for not having posted for more than a week and not posting much today. It’s the start of testing season for teachers in Texas and since my work schedule follows much of theirs, it’s a whirlwind for me as well. There have been some awesome comments written on the blog that I can’t wait to respond to. Please use this blog as a place to foster dialogue, especially around closing the achievement gap and the work of new teachers. I’ll be posting new (a lot of) content by this Friday so please stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out The New York Times article on teenagers’ (lack of) knowledge of world history.

“Fewer than half of American teenagers who were asked basic history and literature questions in a phone survey knew when the Civil War was fought, and one in four said Columbus sailed to the New World some time after 1750, not in 1492.”

“The nation’s education system has become obsessed with testing and basic skills because of the requirements of federal law, and that is not healthy,” Ms. Cortese and Dr. Ravitch said.

I specifically support the Social Studies content in the Rio Grande Valley. We DO focus on basic social studies skills such as map reading, database analysis, and passage comprehension. Teachers are required to teach the content, of course, but I emphasize to them to use it as a vehicle to teach the skills. Is that wrong? To me, that’s a major foundation in social studies. I admit, I didn’t know the exact date the Civil War began (1861), but I sure had the skills to research it at a moment’s notice (Wikipedia).

Our students, from 6th to 12th grade, are coming into class not knowing how to construct a bar graph or interpret a flow chart. To me, teaching students social studies skills at the highest level should be more a priority than memorizing history facts. But maybe I’m just lowering the bar for these students? Maybe they should be memorizing these facts?

The opinions expressed in New Terrain are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.