C is for Catching Up

| April 29, 2014

So now that we’re nearing the end of the semester, it’s clear that the few here and there posts that were allowed to slip through the cracks have begun to add up. Now, as I do my best to get caught up, I’m reminded of one of our earlier conversations in our course, about the linear nature of learning. Race to the top. Catching up. As was mentioned in class, when we talk about education, everything seems to be in an upwards, linear, non-stop kind of motion. It’s interesting that for the majority of this course, these posts fell outside of this linear motion for a lot of us. Rather than measuring ourselves by an invisible quota or line of fulfilling tasks, many of us wrote more or less when we felt prompted to (although the 2 posts a week guideline certainly may have helped with a lot of the prompting). It’s interesting now to see what it means, at the end of it, to still have this notion of catching up and what it means of

Additionally, I can’t help but think of students who are labeled as having a lot of “catching up” to do, whether it’s due to an absence or perhaps due to something greater. Just as education is linear, it is also divided into units of time. A student misses a day of school. Or a month. A student may be reading 2 grade levels, or school years, behind the average. High school students need to graduate and be college-ready within four years. A lot of this can get very complicated for students who have long absences; students who may be emergent bilinguals and transitioning into the English language; or students who simply progress at different paces than others. When we measure all students in set increments of time with standardized testing X amount of times per year, is it really ? I do believe that all students deserve to be proficient at a certain level of skills and abilities by the time they leave the K-12 school system. But the rigid structures that box our educational structure, and the many labels that we place on young people who may not fall ideally within the confines, can be problematic. It’s not hard to see why students who are “held back” or who are told they are “grade levels behind” might disengage. Something “catching up” can be as simple as writing a few posts, but other times it’s a much bigger and more daunting task for students to tackle. I wonder what it might look like to have an education system, as we discussed early on, that doesn’t quite fit this structure. Or, is there a way to work within the system to help students learn what they need to know without calling upon the full pressures and sometimes disheartening rhetoric of the linear model? What might that even look like?