To the Editor:
(“Study Links Academic Setbacks to Middle School Transition,” December 13, 2011) was a painful read. Painful because the remedy to ensure better middle school education is continuing to focus on surveying individual student need, rather than teaching the material and expectations vital to success.
If a middle school offers art, music, science, English, math, history, current events, technology, health, physical education, foreign language, and a variety of extracurricular activities, the teachers, through their instruction, gain an accurate picture of the student. The students, from being a part of such a program, can begin to articulate their potential and that of their peers.
Middle schools hire professionals to deliver on the list given above, yet many middle school educators continue to offer “revivals” like the ones suggested in the article, instead of focusing on the three- to four-year middle school mission.
What do teachers do in a middle school? They provide the buffet of healthy choices in the list given above so children can feast. The students are immersed in activities that allow them to grow into productive, unique individuals with legitimate feelings and informed opinions. Instead, the middle school philosophy of the last 40 years addresses how educators should go about teaching, rather than actually teaching.
If middle school students were able to effectively articulate their feelings and interests, we would not need high schools. The reason students can’t achieve in middle school is because valuable teaching time is wasted talking, instead of delivering the rich variety of experiences that the list above offers.
The writer is a supervisor for the South Colonie school district in Albany, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the January 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Addressing Individual Needs Crucial for Middle School Students