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Q & A
When we hear the same question several times it is easiest to just post the question and our response here for all to read.
Question 1 - Couldn't it be a greater success to help motivate a student to achieve a C when they have in the past only produced a D average vs. a teacher whose students post perfect SAT scores? Much of the impact a teacher has on their students is not measured by a student's grade or test score. Isn't it of value for a teacher to pour energy and attention onto students that result in the student not dropping out of school?
Response 1 - I agree a teacher may have many rolls, responsibilities or expectations built into their job description beyond the student's grades. Being a counselor is a valuable use of their time, being a role model is important, as is being part of the student's support network. Teaching self respect, self esteem and values of good citizenship are also worthwhile goals. However, whatever the mission statement of the school and by extension, the rolls teachers are asked to take on, our organization is still going to celebrate only those schools and teachers whose students demonstrate mastery of required skills on exams.
Question 2 - You can't change DNA, someone who doesn't "get" math isn't going to change.
Response 2 - I feel that is true, right handed people don't suddenly become left handed people. If understanding math concepts isn't in someone make up then no need to fight over it, just move on, choose a different field of study or source of employment. However, it is our view that what students are being turned off by aren’t math concepts but the horrible way information is being taught. Making material relatable and translatable into current use or employment opportunities we feel will trigger a positive response from students. Students will shine in the new environment and do very well in subjects they have previously didn’t “get”.
Question 3 - Why push people into a certain fields of study they don't enjoy? While a school, a teacher, a parent or student may follow your advice and thereby the student performs better on math and science tests what if the student's true passion and motivation is in another field, one they would be just as good at but happier pursing?
Response 3 - I agree, a person that is happy will be internally motivated toward goals and will be more creative and thereby more successful in their chosen field of endeavor. As such, having a skill and interest assessment is an important part of the learning process. Identify the overlap between what the student is good at vs. interested in and move forward. However, being skilled and interested in weaving baskets was helpful and a creative outlet in the 1600s but not so relevant in today’s marketplace. As countries and economies move forward skill sets have to change to keep up to date. Our organization’s starting point will continue to be that pursuing education in fields of math and science is the better choice out of all current options.
Question 4 - If the student refuses to produce how is that the burden of the teacher? Highlighting teachers based on the scores of their students is the wrong approach; it sows discord among the teachers in how they want the students allocated. It isn’t like the teacher can fire disinterested students. The student's internal motivation directly impacts the grades they work toward and great teachers will be overlooked or even fired if the student's grades are "blamed" on the teacher without allocating responsibility to the student.
Response 4 – True, if the student doesn’t care then it would be nearly impossible to reach them, to motivate them to the goal of learning. However, is it student rebellion throughout the United States or failure in the delivery method that repeatedly American students score lower on standard tests than students in other countries? Our students are always coming up short compared to students in Japan, Korea, and England... What are the attributes of our country's teaching methods that consistently turn off students? Identify this flaw and then change the deliver method to encourage, entice and inspire students to pursue knowledge, specifically in math and science.
Question 5 - The success of all societies are based on the family and the core of the family are the parents. Changing the delivery method isn’t going to make one bit of different if education is not valued by the parents. Shouldn't there be a component to encourage, entice and inspire the parents as well as the students?
Response 5 - True, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic is a waste of time. Change and thereby lasting success comes from inside, from values and goals of the individual. The strongest influence for imprinting these values comes from the parents. No school or learning institution will be successful if the students simply leave their brain with their books in their school locker and go home to an environment that doesn't value learning. School administrators should treat reaching and motivating parents as high a priority as interacting with the students. It is vital to the student’s success that school personnel investing time in PTA type programs to reach the parents.
Question 6 - Since you have just begun every organization will have existed longer than you have. They will have a deeper talent pool of board members and staff. They will have stronger ties with partners and donors. They will have completed more research and have more findings to share. Why do you need to exist when others are working in the same space and doing a good job?
Response 6 - We are organized towards several goals, and we aren't folding up shop just because we overlap another organization in one or more areas. In the areas we overlap other groups I have to wonder why they haven't solved the problems already. As they have being working at this longer than us what are they doing wrong such that they haven't been able to cross the finish line yet? Our skill set, our approach, our ideas and perspective puts us on equal ground with all others in the same space and may even be the missing elements needed to reach the goal. As such we will continue to pursue the Non-Profit's stated goals regardless of who is already working in the same space.
We will capitalize on efficiencies. While we will invent and contribute ideas and solutions independent of existing organizations we will also work to build relationships and partner with organizations to share resources, data and talents to leverage strengths.
The rate at which our ideas are copied will be one of the measures of our value to the public. We have nothing patented now and are not likely to have anything patented in the future. We have nothing trademarked now and are unlike to have more than our name and brand trademarked in the future. As such it is likely that others will copy us and incorporate our ideas into their practices. This is more than o.k.; it is the point of our existence. In order to have an impact for change our ideas have to be moved to others and then incorporated.
As our ideas are absorbed by the public and the problems faced are solved our efforts will be redirected to another one of our touch points. This Non-Profit's natural end point is when the problems we are organized to solve are defeated.