Book Review - Public Schools are Archaic by M.R. Ussery EdD and S.R. Pargman

Sunday, July 18, 2010

For those of you who don't know I live in New Orleans, Louisisana. Do I need to tell you the schools are bad there? Probably not, you have probably heard it somewhere a news story or possibly it's just one of those known fact/rumors that are mentioned in random school discussions throughout the country.
Fact, New Orleans public schools (and a fair share of the private ones) are bad, bad as in children do not learn to read and to math let alone anything else useful while in the New Orleans Public School System. Using a rating system where 100 is most children are working at grade level there is a school in New Orleans with a 12 many more in the 20's and 30's*. I ask you exactly what is it that a 12 school is teaching their kids if 100 is just grade level? Does a 12 school teach them how to beg for change on the street corner because I have a hard time envisioning a better future for those kids with that kind of education.
As you can see I was very eager to read Public Schools Are Archaic when I received it to review from the author. Mr. Ussery's ideas are not exactly new in fact they are simply common sense aren't they? Reward students for their actions by making those actions "count." It blows my mind how simple and seemingly obvious this concept is and yet how far away from it our current education system has veered.
Teaching students through doing, not lecturing or testing or writing it out 100 times but actually DOING. How brilliant! Think back in time when instead of learning a basis in everything we learned the details in one or two things we would go out in the field with our parents, get our hands dirty mending fences and plowing the earth, DOING. Or maybe we would apprentice with the cobbler or seamstress cutting fabric, molding leather DOING until we had absorbed the skills to make the trade our own, For hundreds and thousands of years people have learned by doing so why is it that we have an education system that has evolved into grading us on sitting and memorizing.
Why don't we give credit (real honest credit that "counts") for Drama, Football, Spanish Club, Service Clubs and all the rest? We encourage our children to participate in these extra-curriculars why? Because they enrich their lives, they teach skills and they get them ready for the real world why then do they not count for credit toward graduation? Using the system put forth in Public Schools are Archaic all of these real life DOING activities would count. That simple step would make so much difference combine that with getting rid of standardized tests (also in the book) and you have a recipe for success.
I hope with all my might that Mr Ussery's system or one like it does make its way into the public education system, these changes can only be for the better. It is a daunting task but a whole system overhaul is needed and the ideas laidout in Public Schools are Archaic just might be able to pull it off.

* this info comes from the booklet that the New Orleans school system puts out each year to inform parents of the schools in the area.

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