Friday, September 17, 2010

What Would Happen if Schools Dealt with All the Non Pedagogical Issues?

Most of you have probably seen the (not so) new information on how exercise helps kids learn. What would happen if you took some low-income schools, and without doing anything about pedagogy, did the following:

-increased the amount of PE
-reduced class size to 16
-gave vitamins
-provided nutritious food
-fed them breakfast
-fixed their vision
-fixed their teeth
-provided high quality mental health care (not just medication)
-gave them food to take home if they were worried about eating

and compared these with similar schools where you didn't do anything?

How much of the "achievement gap" would this deal with?

I'm willing to bet these changes would fundamentally change what happened in the schools receiving services and resources. (Whether it would change "achievement measured by tests. . . I'm not sure I really care). I'm also willing to bet that if you compared these schools with schools where you did none of this but worked intensively on pedagogy, you would find that the schools with these targeted services and resources would do significantly better and that the improvements would be much easier to maintain.

But, of course, we're in education. We do pedagogy.

Of course, focusing on pedagogy puts on the blame on those who teach pedagogy and on teachers.

(Note, I haven't gotten to reading the material on the Harlem project, but they also work on pedagogy.)


Unknown said...

Thanks Aaron, Insightful comments.
Among a few other things I would add
- give access to affordable and fresh foods (i.e. decent local grocery stores)
- a well funded National School Breakfast and Lunch Program (although I think this is implied by your comments)
- in addition to expanding PE- provide green/ safe places for kids to explore...
Thanks again Aaron, this is a conversation that we need to have... Carolyn Vander Schee

philip said...

I went to Harlem in March to their Practitioner's Institute, after attending the Manhattan Gala in November, where Arnie Duncan gave one of the keynotes.

Read about it here:

On the practitioner's trip, we met every program director (health, human services, education, et. al).

We saw every program.

Every member of their team agrees that health broadly defined is integral to the culture of the community and by default the schools. They have five pillars of reform...the accountability language is tiresome, but I get what they are trying to understand: how "good" are they doing.

I went to both charters.

One has a full service medical facility inside of it.

The other is a typical high school but with a 4:1 student/"teacher" ratio.

The schools "work," as the Director of the Institute Rasuli Lewis told us, because of the programs instituted throughout the community.

70$ Million a year for 10,000 kids...and their families and the was amazing to see what they are doing and how they are/are not, doing it.

I worked for six months as part of a team in Huntsville competing for one of the 20 startup grants the Obama administration will offer later this month.

I fully support the initiative. I'm willing to discuss the entire neoliberal/corporate nexus thing going on...But yes, they are making a difference.

If you couldn't tell above, it pains me that the debate over the Waiting for Superman film is over the charters, and not the community.

Yes Canada is an advocate for charters, but again, every division leader we met agreed that the schools wouldn't work without the outside changes.

Thanks for posting this. I will send it along.

Art said...

We should be doing all we can to make sure that children's needs for medical and dental care are met and it goes without saying that no child or family should ever go hungry. But your question has already been answered, at least to some degree, and the answer comes down on the side of high quality schools ...

daphne sy said...

I agree. . point taken!! we need schools that really have the heart for our children;0