Monday, January 2, 2012

Their is an overt socio-economic bias in this article that no competent editor with the ability to read critically ought to have let slip into print. But, of course, "competent editor with the ability to read critically" and "Chicago Tribune Editor" are oxymorons. Being one precludes being the other.

Asking for help isn't easy for some students

Kids from working-class families less likely to ask questions in class than middle-class counterparts, study finds

BOOM - IN YOUR FACE!! DID YOU CATCH IT?? "Working-class families" versus "middle-class counterparts." This literally OOZES with the stuff that prejudice is made of - holier than thou-ed-ness, and a total lack of respect for people who WORK FOR A LIVING! Clearly - the kids of the "middle-class counterparts" have parents who DO NOT WORK and ARE NOT OF THE WORKING CLASS .... which, QUITE FRANKLY, is one of the profoundest truths that was ever let slip from the Tribune (or any other major daily).

The back breaking jobs in our country are the ones that pay the least - laborer, field hand, fast food worker, sales clerk, that keep folks on their feet for hours upon hours, with little time whatsoever to just walk around for 5-10 minutes an hour and stretch out some other muscles. these jobs, by far, are the most difficult, and they pay the least.

How 'bout them top jobs - hedge fund manager being a prime example - hell, all you have to do is pay some hot-shot programmer to do all those micro trades and collect your fees, short stocks you want to see fail, manipulate markets, get the federal government to reduce your marginal tax rates from 35% to 15%, etc, etc, etc ... the people who get RESPECT in this country are the people who can manipulate figures or words or images ... who can control opinion, who can steal with impunity, especially when they can steal with impunity from the poor .. .yes, indeed, RAPE the poor, EAT the poor, TAKE IT ALL from the poor - sell their body parts - there's a fortune to be made doing that

Which is why doctors are accorded so little respect by the pharmacuetical industry (just check out all the TV commercials telling customers which drugs to tell their physician to prescribe .. hell, the government ought to revoke physicians' prescription writing priveleges, the only folks that really have a clue as to what insurance will pay for are the pharmacists, and they are the only ones who have any chance to know the cornucopia of drugs being taken by the unsuspecting victim of over-medication (that med increased your blood pressure - no problemo - here's a med that will lower it -- that med caused you constipation -- no problemo, againo -- here's adrug that will stop your constipation ... ad infinitum

consider where the jobs are being created in the American economy - bar tenders, bar maids, food servers, health care workers, teachers -- the SERVICE INDUSTRY ... and trust me, SERVICE is not so much about work as about looking cute, being smart and sexy, being able to think quickly on your feet, and being able to make yourself amusing to the wealthy among us (whose numbers, thankfully in so many senses, are no longer growing ... but whose wealth continues to grow apparently with no upper boundaries; least of all common sense and good taste!

By Tara Malone, Chicago Tribune reporter

January 4, 2012

Fourth-grader Kennedy Thielmann shot her hand in the air seconds after the teacher asked a question, while across the Evergreen Park classroom, Rodrigo Lopez called out an answer and Kevin O'Toole sat quietly in his desk, jotting the answer on his work sheet.

Such varied responses unfold in classrooms every day.

But new research suggests that students' ability to speak up for themselves and seek help from a teacher often varies by economic and social class.

Just as every school principal knows the adults most willing to pipe up about everything from the kids' class assignments to cafeteria food — by and large, well-educated working professionals — a study published last month in the American Sociological Review found their children showed the same propensity to advocate for themselves in the classroom as early as third grade. The children of working-class parents profiled in the two-year study seemed more reticent in asking teachers to review directions, provide more instruction or even check their work.

Researchers contend that this insight into one of learning's most basic skills — asking for help — has implications beyond any one assignment.

"We tend to assume that once you put kids in school, what they get there will help them overcome any differences they bring with them. But what this shows is … children have a meaningful impact on the way schooling is happening and what they are able to get out of it," said University of Pennsylvania sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco.

Calarco tracked nearly five dozen students from third through fifth grades beginning in 2008. She visited their homes, interviewed their parents and grouped them as middle class (at least one parent had a college degree and a professional career) and working class (most parents graduated high school and worked in service jobs).

She observed the students every week, in settings ranging from math class to school assemblies. Calarco also counted how many times they raised their hands or approached teachers for help.

The picture that emerged was striking: Middle-class students walked in the door knowing how to get their questions answered and, in turn, spent less time waiting for help and typically completed assignments on time. Many working-class children, meanwhile, had to learn those key skills in class from their teachers and peers.

What's more, Calarco found many middle-class parents coached their students to speak up — politely but persistently — if they did not understand. They viewed seeking help as a critical skill in a class where more than two dozen students turn to a single teacher.

"There's almost a zero sum game for teacher's attention in the classroom," Calarco said.

Researchers and teachers alike contend that the push to mold students into active learners who draw on all their resources — including the teacher — makes the age-old skill of speaking up in class even more vital. Students who hesitate to raise a hand or join in class discussion risk seeming uninterested.

Superintendent Diane Cody describes a philosophical shift over the years in how good students are defined.

"When I was a child, the better student was the quiet student who periodically raised their hand but didn't necessarily ask the challenging questions," said Cody, who heads south suburban Evergreen Park School District 124. "Now, our teachers are valuing the method in which kids will respond and ask those difficult questions."

Oak Park teacher Diane Conmy cooks up classroom rules with her troop of third-graders at Lincoln Elementary School every fall.

After a dozen years on the job, Conmy knows to be explicit: If the class is in the middle of an assignment, raise a hand. Please don't call out. If Conmy is helping a student, wait your turn, but if it is urgent, get her immediately. And restroom visits? Let Conmy know and then go take care of business.

"At first, they might seem puzzled and many of them are timid," Conmy said. "But they get it."

Conmy's classroom includes two dozen children drawn from diverse backgrounds. Her exchanges with the parents reflect the range of experiences.

"Parents in Oak Park expect a lot from their school, and they should. Being that I was an Oak Park parent, I never take offense to that," Conmy said. "We see with newer families that they don't know quite how to advocate."

Economics and education notwithstanding, some students and parents are reserved by nature and reluctant to seek help.

"Self-advocacy is important, but I think we've all heard of the kid who was just very shy," said Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, who taught her first Chicago class in 1978. "With some kids, you need to stand next to them and lean down and say, 'Do you need help?' "

Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University's Center for Urban Education, said some teachers ask students for a signal — as simple as thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs flat — to assess the students' grasp of a lesson. Others give students flash cards coded green, yellow or red.

Vernon Hills teacher Jean Earhart outfits every student desk with a set of hands: one green and one red. When students are working and don't want to be disturbed, they display the red hand to ward off curious classmates. When they need help or want to share something they've written, they prop up the green hand that signals Earhart to come over.

"Nobody is looking. You just put up the hand when you have a need," said Earhart, who teaches third grade at Aspen Elementary School. "Ninety percent of the time, they'll say, 'Read this, I'm excited about what I wrote.'"

Such cues can help students and teachers alike.

Loyola University associate education professor Hank Bohanon coaches future teachers to set clear rules for the classroom and give struggling students a primer on the lesson beforehand so they can more actively participate in the discussion. Such tactics build what he calls the skill of self-determination.

"(Students) are not necessarily their own advocates," Bohanon said. "Appropriately expressing wants and needs, problem-solving — those are skills that can and should be taught to students."

In 2004, Illinois became the first state in the nation to require that all school districts teach social and emotional skills as part of their curriculum and day-to-day routine.

Students must meet certain benchmarks at each developmental level. Kindergartners, for instance, learn to manage behavior, while high school students chart action steps to reach their goals. While seeking help is not explicit, experts contend that the skills align with the spirit of the standards.

"You're not born with an innate capacity to do this. As kids grow up, some of this is modeled for them and some is explained. There are others who could learn it pretty easily," said Roger Weissberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has studied social and emotional learning for more than 30 years.

"You have to know where you need help and where you can go to get help," Weissberg said. "Increasingly, people feel it's worthwhile to teach that."

On a recent Friday, Evergreen Park teacher Susan Cihocki circled the classroom as she gave her fourth-graders at Southwest Elementary School a lesson on the different uses of line graphs and circle graphs.

She called on children to read aloud. She asked questions and tapped students to respond individually and then, as a group, with a show of hands. She gave work sheets for students to tackle independently and then to use in comparing notes with one another in small groups.

Cihocki had just parceled out the work sheets when Aidan Bobel, 9, said: "Excuse me, but I'm having trouble with this."

The bespectacled boy with shaggy hair said he does not hesitate to raise his hand or ask for help when needed. And he cannot remember exactly where he learned to do it.

"Probably in kindergarten," he said.

Kennedy Thielmann tries not to let her teacher get too far into a lesson without asking for help. The 9-year-old said she has learned to pipe up when it matters most.

"If it's a big project, I do half of it and say, 'Is this OK so far?' '' Kennedy said. "It helps you sort of learn what she's looking for."

Clustered with her classmates, Mariah Mendoza, 9, checked her work one last time before comparing notes with the others.

The soft-spoken girl with a ponytail was one of three students who did not pipe up during the day's social studies lesson. But Mariah said she knows that speaking up "kind of helps you learn more."

Mustering a grin and a slight sigh, she said: "Sometimes you just have to do it."

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