Changing the Paradigm-Part 2

The first part of this article expressed the possibility of grouping children by skill mastery rather than by age. However, changing educational practice can certainly go farther than that. For example, teachers at all grade levels should be specialists in their fields.

This system is the standard for secondary education. Public schools expect subject teachers to obtain certification in a particular subject area. Thus, under normal circumstances, a language arts teacher cannot teach math. This principle should apply not only to secondary teachers, but to elementary teachers as well. Thus, students have the opportunity to work with at least four different core teachers each day, thus providing opportunity for more in-depth study of a particular subject. If moving young children from class to class is too chaotic and time-consuming, then perhaps the teachers could move. Such an arrangement could provide students with expert instruction in their core subjects of math, reading, and language arts. Providing specific times for each subject could result in students to receiving a more equitable amount of instructional time for essential skills. Too many times, my elementary students report that they spend a great deal of time on one subject (perhaps spelling), but very little on grammar. In addition, alternating teacher instruction could expose students not only to different personalities, but also to different teaching styles. It could provide more opportunities for success.

Such a proposition would necessitate a change in teacher certification requirements. Instead of being a generalist with certification in “Elementary Education,” teachers would be required to demonstrate competency in their chosen field: math, reading, languages, or science. Such a shift could also attract professionals in each field to certify and share their expertise.

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