Students should learn a subject when they are ready

Editor:

I agree wholeheartedly with Tom Dixon’s idea in the Sept. 1 Observer issue regarding high school students starting class too early.

It is an idea I am sure is familiar to the Rio Rancho school district as well as other school districts throughout New Mexico and the U.S. It is one of many scientifically based ideas known to educators throughout the U.S.

Books have been written about similar ideas that would improve learning in every classroom in America. Some of these ideas included lowering the pupil/teacher ratio in every classroom (1:15 would be wonderful); eliminating fluorescent lighting and going with natural lighting; making sure students are hydrated (studies show around 65 percent of all Americans are dehydrated to some level); teaching students developmentally (i.e., teaching them subjects when their brains and bodies are ready to learn that particular subject); have separate math and science classes for boys and girls in middle and high schools, etc.

Unfortunately and sadly, the average American educational system is a system that not all students will benefit from. Look at our graduation rates in New Mexico.

Many people, including some educators, are happy with a graduation rate of 70 percent. That means we are failing 30 percent of the students in such districts.

Could Boeing or Presbyterian exist with a failure rate of 30 percent? Of course not. But we blindly accept that with our public schools.

American public school systems tend to be based on an outdated assembly-line system similar to the one Henry Ford developed for his Model T back in 1908.┬áToday, kids, ready or not, are put on the line at age 5 and are expected to learn certain things at ever-advancing grade levels until they graduate from this “assembly line” 13 years later.

As mentioned above, 30 percent are not making it. It they don’t make it, they are tended to be blamed for their failure, not the system.

Is this not enough evidence that this system is not working? It seems to me, we are using a Model T assembly system in our efforts to put people on Mars.

Gov. (Michelle) Lujan Grisham has stated she wants a “moon shot” with the educational system in New Mexico. I urge her to look at tossing out our 111-year-old system and looking at one that is based on how and when students learn.

Teach them developmentally. Some students are ready to learn reading in kinder and some are not ready until third grade.

Teach then when they are ready. Do what is best for the learning of kids and not what is best for the system.

Mr. Dixon’s idea is a great one. I hope the governor and new secretary of education look at it and the dozens, if not hundreds, of others that are out there waiting to be implemented with the students in New Mexico

Kenneth V. Moulton

Rio Rancho

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