How to Make a Student 'School Smart'
come to school with such incredibly diverse backgrounds. When they are from an
"academic family," they have what they need - books in the home, parents who
value school highly, high expectations, clear rules about homework, and good
role modeling for getting along with teachers and other students. Kids from
chaotic homes and low-income homes often are at an incredible disadvantage
because they lack those things. How can we as a society help level the playing
field without holding back the kids who already are "school smart"?
Author Jim Burke has come up with
the "four C's" for students who want to build up their "cultural capital" for
educational success, and educators who want to help them:
This relates to how much students care about their
schoolwork, and consistently try to succeed, with the help of their parents and
their school. It really helps students stay committed to academic effort if
they have allies, guides and coaches, he says. They must consider school a
haven where they are cared about and understood.
A good student has to welcome unfamiliar content and relish
the process of relating it to his or her everyday life and the world around
them. It has to be a solid mixture of classic academics, and what is relevant,
engaging, and practical for today's students and tomorrow's citizens. The
content of the curriculum should not be narrowly limited to intellectual
knowledge, but also contain the rich depth of moral, social, personal and
practical strands of study as well.
These are the skills students need, starting with
reading, writing and figuring. Keys include the ability to communicate ideas,
evaluate and make decisions, and generate ideas, solutions, and interpretations.
Specific competencies run the gamut from organization to developing allies and
Beyond the basics, but starting with them, students build their
capacity for learning. They need reading skill at a level that gives them confidence,
dexterity, fluency, joy, memory, resiliency, speed, and stamina. Tolerance of
risk and complexity are factors identified by Burke as affecting capacity.
book is available on www.amazon.com: School Smarts: The Four C's of Academic
Success, by Jim Burke (Heinemann, 2004).