(MY RESPONSE TO LOCAL REPORT ON RISE OF STUDENT ABSENTEEISM IN LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS)
The fundamentals of institutional schooling—curriculum, instruction, goals— have been, for over three decades, outdated. Students study a curriculum developed in 1894; they sit in classrooms for over six hours days ignoring basic developmental/biological needs of children and adolescence; they listen to a teacher transmitting large amounts of information that can easily be found on google; they take a Friday teacher made test that for the most part are neither valid or reliable; and they are told they are being prepared for a job market that, according to labor statistics, will demand a change in skills at least eleven times.
Surveys of student attitudes towards their schooling have for over a decade confirm what most parents find out over dinner tables—school is boring and irrelevant. The only extrinsic card left in the motivational deck is a transactional one—you need good grades to get into college. Schools long ago have given up on providing educational environments that are transformational–goals that are written into all school mission statements. These goals were taken seriously by a group of progressive educators at the turn of the century, but, their voices were silenced by a powerful group of “administrative progressives,” who prized efficiency and accountability over autonomy and responsibility.
You could fill libraries with books—some of which I have written (see URL below)—on how to design instructional environments that better serve the social, emotional, and intellectual needs of children and adolescence. Sadly, we have an educational establishment and political class that never question the fundamentals of institutional schooling, and instead, merely double down on thinking up various carrots and sticks to lure or force students into environments poorly designed to develop the diverse abilities and interests of children and adolescence.