WSU teachers have helped change the future of education by innovating how schools approach student involvement.
Barbara Godby, a WSU alumna who now teaches at a Las Vegas middle school, had her students participate in a civil war reenactment as a teaching stimulate, according to WSU News.
The 7th graders dressed up in confederate and union uniforms and were assigned ranks and positions required for an actual battle. They then proceeded to pelt each other with sponges — even having the artillery unit use sling shots to launch the sponges across the field.
Despite soaking the children and letting them have a great time, the lesson taught the kids discipline and provoked their curiosity for civil war memorabilia.
Godby teaches an accelerated English learning class and managed the project with the help of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter.
Lessons like this remain important tools for the U.S. education system. American education is engaged in a struggle with developing countries to pump out successful students with the skills necessary to enter the workforce and shape the future. Lately, our country has been losing that war.
Seven thousand students a day drop out of school in the U.S., because they do not have the literacy skills necessary to continue their education, according to a Mississippi State University article. In some parts of the country the attrition rate amongst teachers floats in the 90-percentiles. In addition, low parental involvement has caused difficulties in the American education system across the board.
The national model for education in U.S. first began in the early 20th century. Business leaders, feeling threatened by the growing industrial empire of Germany, borrowed the German educational model and pushed Congress to apply it in a centralized national setting, according to the Foundation for Economic Education. Thus, a school system with an assembly-line mentality was born, churning out students in an efficient manner with a finished product that attempted to assimilate the populace into a mono-culture. Since that time, little has been done to reform the system as a whole, although many small bandage-like solutions have been applied with minimal success.
Many theories suggest the best method to educate a student, but most seem to have one common consensus — learning through physical application produces the best results. Events like the civil war reenactment spike children’s interests and can get the ball rolling.
Godby took her demonstration and let other teachers expand upon it, using the information gathered for history papers and science fairs. The middle school math teacher even had students predict the trajectory of sponges fired by artillery sling-shots, which shows how a little inspiration can go a long way.
The U.S. should take motivation from its fear of countries like China that currently compete with us for economic dominance. We need to push for education reforms just like we did in the early 20th century with Germany and in the 1960s with Russia. Teachers might not be able to physically teach students in every aspect of education, but getting students involved even a little can positively impact the future of a student.