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Page history last edited by Barret Rus 4 years, 3 months ago

Barret Rus

Mrs. Tenly

Independent Research

15 April 2016

Reflection #18

            With the end of the school year fast approaching, we have been hard at work finalizing our yearlong research projects. At the time of the writing of this reflection, we have learned about the research process, written a literature review, written a research proposal, done additional research, and written a final paper. The only task left for us will be to prepare and practice a final presentation for the upcoming symposium. I am very excited for the upcoming symposium, and look forward to presenting my research findings to a diverse and hopefully receptive audience. What exactly will I be presenting? For the past two months I have used my research proposal as a guideline, and discovered a variety of sources that helped me explain subtopics of my research and built off of ideas that were discovered in my literature review. The research was broken into five major categories; “What are the problems of the American education system?”, “What has been done to solve these problems in the past?”, “Why are the education systems of others nations successful?”, “Why is life skills education a viable solution the problems plaguing the American education system?”, and “How can life skills education be implemented in the classroom?”.

            Additional research has shown that American high schools face a culture problem. American students are often too bored, and see school not as a learning environment, but rather a place to social. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has provided statistics that showed that the United States ranks low in the area of participation, but high in the area of belongingness. Participation is more of an academic engagement test, and measures how often students come to school, arrive on time, and show up for class. Belongingness is more of a social engagement test, and measures how many students felt that they fit in to the student body, were liked by their schoolmates, and felt that they had friends in school. While I certainly understand the value of social engagement in school, I have seen firsthand how the social nature of school has dominated all other aspects. Students do not understand the influence a good education can have on their lives. This dilemma leaves educators with two options; they can force students to conform to their teaching style or they can shift this style to match the attitudes of students. I believe that the latter option is the only way for high schools to turn around the problems with the education system. The life skills system will develop a new style of learning that better engages students and encourages them to meet tangible goals.

            As important as changing the style of teaching is to the future success of the American education system is, addressing the social problems of the country as a whole will yield greater results in the long run. Further research was done in the area of attempted solutions into the problems facing the American education system. Additional sources stated that the problems with the American education system are not limited to the school itself, but rather larger social issues in communities across the United States. This means that educational polices that do not address the underlying social issues surrounding the American education system, will not be successful. On major failed policy of the past decade has been No Child Left Behind. The program was too focused on standardized testing, which only provides numbers, not solutions. Students should be evaluated under a variety of different categories that cannot be tested by standardized testing. A student has issues outside of the classroom, and obviously cannot perform well inside the classroom if there are negative elements outside the classroom.

            Other nations’ education systems are superior to the education system in the United States, because education is at the forefront of the public policy, not “someone else’s problem”, as it often is seen in the United States. This comprehensive study of other nation’s education systems will help to provide the local systems with ideas about how to solve their education woes. However, there also must be a realization that the United States is not the same as other nations, and can sometimes not implement their policies. Thus, life skills education will step in where other policies are deemed infeasible. Further research into why life skills education is a viable solution to the problems facing was also completed. The overall message is that life skills education works because it addresses problems not only in schools, but also addresses problems in the general social surroundings of a school. It is an important concept, as it proves life skills education will work in areas where past programs have failed. Finally, research was done in the area of life skills implementation. This research provided information on how to actually put life skills classes in the classroom. The research stressed that the classes need to be placed throughout a student’s entire school career. Also, it was deemed extremely important for teachers to be properly trained in the life skills curriculum, so that they can pass along this information to students. The final piece of the research in the most important, because the ultimate goal of this research in implement life skills education into the local community. Thus, it is important to understand how these classes have been implemented in other locations.

            As I sit writing this reflection, I am amazed at how fast the year has passed. I still can wrap my head around the fact that I will not be attending Franklin High School next year. I am excited for the immense change that will come with my college experience, but also a little nervous when I realize that ever single decision I make is completely up to me. The independent nature of this class has definitely prepared me for the college lifestyle. Towards the beginning of the year, there were some ups and downs in my personal life and this definitely affected my performance in class. Unlike other classes, where I have to be at the top of my game every time I come to class, the independent nature of this class lets my work at my own pace. If I was really couldn’t focus one day or had to devote my time to something else, I was able to that in this class. This is exactly what college will be like. I know that there will be some days where I am really motivated and ready to power through some work, and some days where I simply cannot think for longer than ten minutes. As long as I balance my time, and do not have too many off days, I will be able to finish my work in a timely and efficient manner. This class has also shown me the benefit of a small class size with a group of dedicated individuals. The use of peer editing only works in you are interacting with peers who can operate on the same level as you. This concept is certainly true in this class, and my papers have been greatly improved by critiques and criticisms from Luke and Jaleh. If I attend the University of Maryland, I will look forward to experiencing the benefits of this small group of dedicated individuals through the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Program.

            This class has also helped me with me decision making skills (even though it doesn’t seem like it, because I still haven’t picked a college). I have learned that sometimes it is important to have other people’s input on decisions, and other times it is important to decide alone. Also, I have realized that it is usually best to get opinions from people who have experience. This is why I often asked Mrs. Tenly about college essays or college in general; she has been through what I am about to experience. I plan to constantly be involved with counselors and other officials at my school and use them as a resource to help me find success throughout my four years of college. Most of all, this class has taught me how to balance a variety of different activities. Just like in college, this class has a few important papers that need to be written over the course of the year. I now know how to balance the weight of extracurricular activities, other schoolwork, leadership roles, and the large papers in this class. I was able to map out deadlines and get all my work over the course of many days. Overall, this class has given me the tools to succeed in the real world, just as I hope to give future generations to tools to succeed through life skills classes.  

            As much as I reflect on the past year, the year is not completely over yet; we still have to attend and present our research findings at the annual BCPS Symposium. My main goals at the symposium are to convince the audience that there are problems with the American education system, explain what has been done in the past to address these problems, address the problems within the local school system through case studies of certain schools, and present life skills education as not only a viable solution for BCPS, but for the American education system as a whole. I will be presenting using a Prezi or other PowerPoint substitute, because just as life skills education is a new, creative way to solve education problems, a Prezi is a new, creative way to present information. My presentation will at first try to engage the audience through scare tactics. I will use key statistics and information to quickly show the issues surrounding the American education system. Next, I will engage specifically parents and educators in the audience who have lived through past failed education policy. Finally, I will engage students in the audience by allowing them to vent their frustration that “nothing they learn can be applied to the real world”. As stated before the ultimate goal of this research is to implement life skills classes into classrooms across Baltimore County. My presentation at the symposium will hopefully garner support for life skills classes’ implementation or accelerate the time table for the implementation, if life skills classes are already being considered as an option.

            The next month will be over before I know it, and soon I will walking across the stage at graduation. I hope that I will Franklin knowing that my research has left an lasting impact not only on this school, but on the entire Baltimore County community.


Comments (1)

Suhaila Tenly said

at 11:12 am on Apr 18, 2016

You're going to do a great job at the symposium, college, and in life, Barret. Great work. 50/50

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