Today’s NYT had 2 front page articles detailing events that indirectly affect what goes on in our classrooms.
The first dealt with financial and research conflicts of interest on the part of a professor of psychiatry responsible for much of the use of strong medications for children with behavioral problems, medicines called psychotropic drugs. Given the large numbers of children we are seeing who suffer from the side-effects of these drugs and whose disruptive or counterproductive behavior we are asked to tolerate b/c the medication is prescribed by a “doctor” read sacrosanct unquestionable authority, even the hint of ulterior motives in recommending such drugs should set of alarms.
Next, South Korean families are being split up due to the inadequate and high-pressure Korean ed system. Specifically, children and their mothers are moving to English-speaking countries like Australia and New Zealand, leaving fathers behind to work and send money, so the children can learn English.
Not only is the English languagae ed in SK considered woefully inadequate by these parents, but the whole system is so riddled with test mania and cramming that students suffer great stress. It is so bad these families are willing to separate for years at a time to overcome the ill effects and inadequate language instruction.
It makes my blood boil every time I hear some conservative point to high test scores from these countries (any teacher worth his salt should already be aware of how these countries cream their students for test-takers rather than testing the whole student population as we do) as a way of recommending that we adopt the same assembly-line approach to ed.
And as for the language instruction, how many times have I heard someone say that when teaching students from China, we must teach a lot of grammar b/c that’s what they’re used to. To what effect?