Why Is It So Difficult?

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Written by Bob Spear, formally NELMS executive director

Why is it so hard for others to understand the best ways to educate young adolescents? It seems to me that middle level educators who are aware of how young adolescents learn best; keep current with effective ways of educating our youth; and continually grow, change, and have a “never-give-up-attitude”, seem to “get it” and experience great successes.

Middle level education as defined by teaming, advisory, teacher common planning time, committed administrators and teachers, and other keys practices, has been the most dramatic change in educations over the last 35 years. Yet, way too often, the best researched practices are not institutionalized or sustained beyond the life of key personnel.

In my travels around New England for the last 17 years, I have heard many unfortunate accounts regarding the dismantling of, or partial implementation of, effective middle level practices in schools that house 10 to 14 year olds. No matter the grade configuration, why is it that too many superintendents, high schools educators, college instructors, schools boards, elementary educators, parents and sometimes many in our own level just seem to “not get it”.

Is it too complex to communicate clearly? Is it that much different than what others are used to? Is it the nature of the age group we work with? Have the results not been shared enough to promote the change that is necessary? Is the work too hard?

What do you think?

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