Sunday, June 10, 2012

Public School vs Private School - A Controversial Truth?

A student at the Bridge Learning Campus (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife).
Public School vs Private School - A Controversial Truth?
by Cristina Enriquez

In viewing projects for elementary students I took some time today to talk about private vs public school.

I have gone to public school. My son has gone to private school. Did we turn out different? Possibly. But some people turn out VERY different.

I have taught children and I have taught adults also. In my experience as a teacher, what really makes a difference in not the name of the school, the brochures and the mumbo-jumbo in big gold letters.

What makes a difference is THE TEACHER: the approach, methods used and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, the CARE he or she puts into a student.

A "good" teacher is worth a million dollars (which sadly often translates into a very low number in real life). A "bad" teacher should just simply change profession and let's leave it at that.

But what identifies a "good" from a "bad" teacher? Is it the pompous words and the diplomas on the wall? Is it "psychology"? The looks? The presence or absence of thick glasses? Tons of tomes piled up in impossibly high stacks? None of those, I am afraid. What differentiates a good teacher from a bad one are the RESULTS.

Can this 13-year-old boy read at their level? Can this other 8-year-old girl spell correctly? Does the student have a DESIRE to learn? And, most importantly, will this little child be, or is this graduate, a PRODUCTIVE member of society? Can he/she help himself AND others?

Another point to look at is: Does the student have a DESIRE to learn? And does the teacher have the ability to instill a LOVE for LEARNING?

When in a public school you see a bunch of kids unwilling to learn, below grade level, bad manners and worse you know ONLY one thing: BAD TEACHERS (and bad parents also - I never blame the child, that opens the door to NO handling).

Sure we have a "higher level" in public schools where the minister of Such and Such and the school district and whatnot have to approve programs which sometimes a teacher is "forced" to follow. And sometimes people at that higher echelon DO NOT have your child's best interest at heart.

In fact I have seen the most incredible ways where a child who is vivacious or distracted being labeled with all sort of nonsense and then given an "educational" drug.

Luckily enough, my son had a mother with enough I.Q. (who was also a teacher) and, as rule #1, I kept him away from all that and he turned out pretty well I have to say. And so have his friends who all went to the same school.

So where are these GOOD teachers?

You may find some in public school, no doubt, but the fact that in a private school you are most likely kicked out if you do not do a great job (parents pay, you know?). I think you are better off by putting your child in a private school. That's what I did with mine and I am very proud of my choice and the results.

Then you say: but that is expensive. Sure it can be. But so is your child's value.

In my case, I disliked this public school system so much that when I could afford my son's tuition I started teaching at his school on exchange - some schools will let you do that!

But let's talk now about RESULTS.

Not all students are the same: some are more "naturally" inclined to study than others, true. But part of being a GOOD teacher is also having the tools for solving any problem a student may have.

80%+ of students are incredibly easy to keep on the correct path or turned around were needed. And in this regard I am NOT including the use of punishment, force, drugs or any other unorthodox method.

I am talking about getting to the root of the difficulty, a customized program for each student that would handle the student difficulty and/or enhance the good qualities.
This may be part of a longer article or a series of classes.

But, in all this, we MUST consider the pupil's willingness and work with that. But how? I will give you a little "trick".

At one time my son liked more video games that books. He REALLY wanted to learn all the codes and go to level 128 of Mario-Something-or-Other. So I told him, "You know, to read that magazine that explains your game, you need to be a good reader!"

And he gained much more interest in improving his grades (because now he was willing, see? He had an INCREDIBLY HIGH PURPOSE - his purpose). And with that he also became more interested in school altogether. And it was much easier to get him away from the video game to other interests. True story.

There are many, MANY other things a good teacher has to know. And, oddly enough, the majority of it is NOT taught in "teacher-school".

I found public school to be too controversial for my simple Italian heart, I dislike bureaucracy. In a more "selfish" way, I think children are MY future and I most definitely I want to contribute to a splendid one.

And, guess what? YOU are in it too.

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