In 1931 the American Dream was described as, “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” Unfortunately, education has turned the “American Dream” into a nightmare of disability and low achievement.
It is difficult to imagine an institution in which failure is not only accepted but rewarded yet that is how the institution of education is currently run. Children are given little incentive to achieve and every reason to fail. Learning or not, they are passed along from grade to grade until they are either classified as learning disabled, quit, or graduate with a degree that means little more than they had the consternation to make it through.
While scholars meet to discuss fixing the failing system of education, very few recognize that there is no real reason for children to succeed. Research has shown that neither retention nor social promotion works. However, research has also shown that mastery learning is very successful.
Mastery learning is a child centered style of learning that does not concentrate on the material being taught but on how the child learns. The RCSD has known about this type of learning for years yet it has not been implemented our schools. Instead, the BoE would rather increase class sizes: Mastery learning requires low teacher:student ratios – not profitable. They would rather stick to the eight week, summer break, school calendar which is known to cause a regression in student retention: Mastery learning requires a year round learning calendar – not favorable or profitable. The Board would rather increase graduation rates through standardized testing: Mastery learning concentrates on the individual child’s learning needs – time consuming, not favorable, not profitable.
Mastery learning provides each child the opportunity achieve according to their own ability; the “American Dream.” The nightmare is to make more money by committing our children to failure, hopelessness, and self-degradation.
It’s time to wake up and fight against the system that is mis-educating our children for profit and begin to educate our children to achieve the “American Dream.”