Who Are Today’s Students and How Do We Reach Them – Releasing the Spirit of Academic Excellence

Ako Kambon, Visionary Leaders Institute, discusses how to reach students in the classroom.

Presenter:  Ako Kambon, Visionary Leaders Institute

Summary:  School is irrelevant to students today.

Culture is the lens through which others see the world. It allows us to reach each other. The cultural landscape of Ohio is changing, but we haven’t necessarily realized it. “Regular students” are gone and aren’t coming back. Students are black and brown. Poverty, jobs and culture affect education, but you must look at data, deal with it and see how it impacts test scores.

Why these students are the bottom rung of test scores:

    • School is not connected to the student’s perceived future life. They haven’t been exposed to many life experiences, so they don’t see the value. Many just waiting until they are old enough to drop out.
    • Teaching style does not mesh with their learning style.
    • Too many parents don’t know how to help them. We cannot expect them to do what they haven’t been taught to do. Give them three to five things (not a long list). Talk to them in a way that is comfortable for them.
    • Lacks self-esteem (starts at an early age).

Five patterns of learning for Americans and students of color

    • Rituals – activities connected to today’s students, ceremonies
    • Rhythm – patterns of sound or movement, pace, frequency of consistency learning to music (rap, neumonic) incorporate behavior into learning (AA) (Asian tradition is written word.) Absence of vocabulary in certain communities – it hampers students who have limited vocabulary. Some cultures speak in directives. Primary reason students fail tests is because they lack the vocabulary to understand.
    • Repetition
    • Recitation – more likely to retain it. Some cultures are oral in traditions.
    • Relationships

The five major influences on young people through the decades:

Doesn’t matter about social/economic status, the only time it matters is based on the decade the child is raised in.

    • 50s – home, school, church, peers, TV
    • 80s – home, peers, TV, school, church
    • 90s – peers, TV, home/media, school, #10-church (these are the parents of our students)
    • 2000s – Media (5 subgroups – Videos (TV and games), internet, Computers, movies, network TV)

The church was the institution where we learned that everybody’s watching you, you learned rituals, relationships, etc. The values of the church and goals have been replaced by media (not human), with no filters. Although the culture has changed, nothing is reinforcing old values and the media is defining culture

Since students have changes, so must the way we reach them.

    • Got to begin to put images in front of them what the expectations you have for them.  (tell them they can do this – culturally relevant to create a different environment in the classroom)
    • We must understand the impact of television/media on today’s youth because:
      1. Students have a shortened attention span because of media).
      2. Students are accustomed to being entertained.
      3. Students accustomed to being entertained.
      4. Students are accustomed to receiving the information faster than teachers are giving it.
      5. Students are now visual learners. If we don’t address that, we’re going to lose them.

Ways to begin to change the culture?
Students should learn that the next logical step for them is higher education.

We need to develop relationships with parents. It’s relationships that matter. For example, teach the single moms how to read so they can help their children and pass along that value to their children.

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