A few suggestions for parents and teachers to improve the educational experience

It’s important to me to make some suggestions to improve our kids’ educational experience.  From a developmental perspective, the first and most important suggestion is for educators, administrators, and parents to realize that education is a systemic endeavor.  This system is dynamic; that is, development occurs throughout the system and what may have worked with the child in first grade will not work with that child in the seventh grade.  Parents must realize that they, too, are developing in response to their child’s development.  If it is in fact true that the brain changes in response to environmental stimuli, then as the environment changes, so do the individuals in the environment.  It is a cycle, the individuals change the environment and vice versa.

The next suggestion is for teachers to be aware of their individual student’s needs.  It seems that, too often, teachers employ a “one size fits all” approach and if each of their student’s environments is at a different developmental stage, then it seems obvious that each child will be at a different developmental stage.  There will be similarities, but there will also be children who are ahead or behind, depending on their respective stage.  If teachers understand human development, then they should be more successful in both presenting material and in making their lesson plans more student-centered.

While the first two suggestions focused more on theoretical awareness, the final suggestion is for educators and parents to not only understand what developmental changes their adolescent student may be going through, but to also use the music that their students listen to as material for learning.  As discussed earlier in this paper, learning involves meaning systems.  Therefore, if teachers take a song, for example, any one by Eminem, then the teacher should ask what that song conveys to the student through writing exercises.  In other words, by discovering the prescribed meaning to a respective student that a song conveys, both teachers and students can move into a deeper understanding of their environment.  These exercises can be regressive; that is, the same exercise pertaining to the same song would be administered at different points in the school year to see if there has been any change in what the song means to that student.  This type of regression analysis can detect pathological development because if the symbols become progressively dark, then it would be a safe bet that the child is in a growing pathological state.

Therefore, it seems as though awareness of the developmental process is the first step for both parents and teachers to improve the educational setting.  This awareness empowers parents and teachers and provides information that can provide insight as to why adolescents behave the way they behave.  There is also great potential in approaching the classroom through a student-centered approach.  This approach empowers the students in that they will have an opinion in a domain that can sometimes alienate them due to the institutionalized power structure.  As long as students do not have a say in creating their educational environment, the longer they will seek to gain power through risky behaviors.