Current Connection #1 Essay

The main themes that our learning circle pulled from the article by John Dewey were socialization, high stakes testing, classroom community, and student interests. Some of these coincide with one another and all are equally important in creating a safe and inclusive classroom environment for all students.

The first theme from our group, and the one that I focused on, was socialization. Socialization is a major component in students’ academic experiences and school is where students develop friendships and learn how to share and treat others with kindness. School is also the place where the values that one learns at home are deepened and nurtured. Socialization in schools cannot be overlooked because the education system is designed to be a social process. If all schools focus on is getting the facts across and emphasizing memorization, then they are failing as educators. The article that I chose for my current connection was one that looked into how Covid-19 and school on Zoom affected students’ mental health. I felt that this connected well to Dewey’s theme on socialization because remote school essentially took the social part of school away. The article revealed that many students lost motivation while doing school through Zoom. Socializing at school with one’s classmates and teachers helps encourage and motivate students, while through Zoom, the only person to really motivate students is themselves.

The second theme from our learning circle, which Lexi researched, was high stakes testing. Many students and parents have gotten the perception that schooling is really just preparation for high stakes testing and that we live in an educational culture that emphasizes standardized testing. Dewey believes that it is more important to hands-on learning is more effective and that we should be focusing on forming living experiences for students and not just spending all of our time preparing them for the future and what lies ahead. School is about so much more than that and high stakes testing does not align with the student-centered pedagogy that Dewey preaches. Lexi’s current connection article was about how a poet realized that questions about some of her poems appeared on a standardized test and, to her surprise, she had difficulty answering questions about her own poems because the format of the stanzas were wrong, her poems are meant to be performed, and she was never even consulted about the questions about her own poems. The organizations that create tests are mainly focused on making money, not meeting the students’ needs. This article connected well to Dewey’s article because it emphasized that high stakes testing is not always the best way to test students’ abilities and we should not be relying on them.

The third theme that we pulled from the article, which was Lauren’s, was classroom community. In his article, Dewey emphasized the importance of building community within a classroom. Children naturally become more self-confident, skilled learners, socially skilled, and responsible when they feel a sense of community in their learning environment. School is a form of community and if educators do not see that and focus on it enough, then they are failing to reach their students’ needs. While learning the core curriculum and information necessary at school, those things are merely for the sake of preparation and do not play a significant role in the overall experience of the students. Lauren’s current connection was an article that gave six strategies for creating community in the classroom. Some of these include working on classroom goals, conflict resolution language, having classroom check-ins, and building a routine. This helps students have a say in what they need from one another in order to learn most effectively. This article did a great job connecting to Dewey’s article because it helped expand off of his emphasis on classroom community by giving examples and strategies for how to build this as effectively as possible.

The fourth theme that we found in the article that Audrey focused on was student interests. It is important to incorporate activities and habits into the classroom that students are already familiar with from home. This helps make learning more engaging and enjoyable and students naturally feel more comfortable doing things they like and have done before. In order to effectively educate children, we must gain some insight into their interests and habits because that is how we get to know them and figure out their likes and dislikes. All in all, the process of education is much more important than the end goal. Audrey’s current connection article was about how getting to know your students helps them learn more. By knowing their interests, habits, and backgrounds, then it is easier to connect topics being taught to their lives. This can help motivate them to do well and showcase the importance of what is being taught. Furthermore, classroom activities should be varied and always work to involve the students as much as possible. This article was an effective connection to Dewey’s article because it extrapolated off of how to best get students engaged in the classroom by getting to know them. It gave great examples of how to best learn students’ interests and habits, and then incorporate that into the material being taught.

Dewey gave many references to the psychological process that children go through and how that correlates with their education. He always brought any point he made back to the well-being of the child and also thoroughly explained any point he made to where it was easily interpreted. Overall, Dewey’s article emphasized the student-centered pedagogy, which creates meaningful learning opportunities and focuses on flexible learning environments. He especially stressed that creating a social, safe, and engaging classroom environment is much more important than simply spewing out facts and information for the students to memorize. Classrooms and learning environments should be focused on the students’ needs and interests and should always be open for change and flexibility. He gave the example that high stakes testing is not always the best way to test students’ abilities and we should be rethinking assessment strategies. Ultimately, it is more important for educators to be giving their students life experiences and creating classroom communities than to just be giving facts and information, especially right now with the unprecedented times that have shifted our education system.

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