Top Four Influencers of Elementary Student Behavior and Attitudes
Teachers, Parents, Peers and Media
According to the TEA, 86% of elementary teachers are intimidated by teaching science. This is completely understandable. We demand that our teachers master a wide variety of subjects and subject them to rigid controls on what they teach and how they teach it. In 2009 we added science to their already overwhelming load. Teachers need help in the form of simple to implement lesson programs and training.
Many parents are simply not involved in their child’s education – either through ignorance or a fear that they don’t know the subject well enough to support their kids. The result is a lack of encouragement and support by well intentioned parents. I believe we can educate these parents and provide them with similar resources to reduce intimidation and teach them how to participate and support their kids natural enthusiasm for science.
Peer groups are particularly brutal when it comes to discouraging academic performance. But, this doesn’t mean they are just cruel idiots. They are the result of the above factors and are simply taking the path of least resistance.
Positive media choices for kids under 16 is becoming a rarity. There are many reasons for this, but the fact is, there are few programs that are designed for kids with a fun, educational direction featuring peers engaged in positive activity. Nickelodeon is chock full of senseless cartoons and teen age girls in tight pants (which I’m sure many kids enjoy…). Discovery Channel has a fair amount of science programing but it’s not designed for kids. Instead, we have cage fighting, Jackass, WipeOut, and a long list of programs that promote violence and idiocy.
Today’s students expect a different experience than the traditional approach to educational media. Good or bad, this expectation is going to stay. The good news is that we can leverage this for their own good by addressing each area of influence to send the message that science is not only fun, but is one of the most important careers one can choose to improve lives and communities.
Kids need peer role models and inspired teachers and parents to show them that science is an exciting, amazing and relevant adventure where sometimes there are explosions. Who doesn’t like the occasional explosion?
Most kids want to change their world. Combining solid educator and parental support plus peer-based media inspires kids to see the sciences as the path to make the world a better place.
Plus, you get to blow things up.