Tag Archives: elementary education

Take a Step Back

Gregory Bateson in his introduction to Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, wrote, “… nothing has meaning except it be seen as in some context.” Of course, a lot depends on the context chosen. Today I want to provide one sort of context for the American ideas about elementary education.

In the United States, we assume that children go to school. We assume it to the extent that some children are told that school is their “job.” This isn’t true everywhere.

An article today in The Times of India, “Right to Education Act will show results: Sibal” provides the response of Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resource Development, to criticisms of the roll out of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

The RTE Act was passed by Parliament in August 2009 and took affect April 1, 2010. The Act mandates a free compulsory education for every child in India aged 6 to 14, including 10 million children who were previously excluded from education, either because they were working, differently abled, very poor, migrants, or lived in places too remote from a school. The Act allows states three years to develop schools and five years for the improvement in the quality of teaching. The Minister is quoted as urging people to give the Act time to take effect, as changing the infrastructure cannot happen overnight.

Rethinking tertiary education is also on the agenda, including the presence of foreign universities—including from the United States—in India. Some Institutions of Higher Education are already contributing. The minister, himself, has an LLM from Harvard University.

I’m not going to tell you what conclusions to draw from this, but I am going to suggest you look at our article “Compulsory Education ” for a bit of history about compulsory education in the United States and the United Kingdom, with a summary of the compulsory education requirements in the United States.


Free & Compulsory Education Act of 2009 Becomes Law in India

Pros and Cons of Looping

What is looping?

Looping is when students stay with the same teacher for two to four years. For example, students start 1st grade with Mrs. G. When the students move on to 2nd grade Mrs. G. goes with them. This continues on for up to four years. The foundation of this concept is to give the teacher and student more time together to foster that interpersonal relationship. The teacher is able to really zone in on what the needs of the student are and how to better help them with their education.
What are the pros of looping?
  • Statistics show that there were fewer absences and less disciplinary action necessary when students had been in the looping process.
  • Students have less anxiety in a new school year because they are familiar with the teacher, the teacher’s expectations and the other students in the class. This takes the fear out of the first day of school.
  • Learning can be more personalized because the teacher has has more time to get familiar with the student and to work with them.
  • The individuals in each class tend to get more support.
  • There is a great continuity from one year to the next or subject to subject because the student and teacher are familiar with each the pattern and learning styles.
  • Gives the student a chance to have stronger relationships with the teacher as well as other students.
  • Studies show that students are more willing to take risks and “think outside the box” when they have done looping.
  • Less review at the beginning of the year which means about one more month of actual instruction in new material.
  • Teachers know better how to design the following year’s curriculum based on their knowledge of the student, their needs and their learning styles.
  • Special needs students get more time with the teacher.
Cons of looping:
  • There could be a bad match between student and teacher.
  • New students may have a hard time feeling like they “fit in”.
  • Students may get too familiar with each other and that could inhibit the learning process.