I read an article yesterday that really touched me. It moved me to think about my journey of growing up in South LA and the path that led me to Cal State University at Northridge.
I can relate to many of the issues the student, Kayshawn, was faced with. This young man had a higher grade point average than I ever had in high school or college. That high g.p.a. did not help him though when he got to college. There are key ingredients that students (specifically from South Los Angeles) need to succeed in college. They include (but not limited to):
- Ability to Critically Think
- Exposure to sites, events, museums, etc. outside of ones immediate neighborhood
- Rigorous Coursework
When I ask my 15 year old a question, her most popular answer is ‘I Don’t Know’. I personally hate that answer, and I never settle for it. It requires no thinking! We have to challenge our kids to think!
A great deal of the homework many students bring home for social studies classes are question/answer type worksheets. Writing down a yes or no answer and a one sentence response doesn’t force anyone to think much.
Our kids need to be engaged in in-depth discussions about different things. I like to have discussions about the songs my daughters like. It makes them actually listen to the lyrics and think about how they feel repeating certain things. The overall conversation forces all of us to think critically (I hope).
In 2013, I am still amazed at the number of kids who do not and/or have not been outside of their neighborhood. Growing up I knew of a few classmates and neighbors who had never been to the beach! My aunt would take me to the beach when I was little and when I got to high school, my friends and I would catch the bus there. Our kids need exposure. I know every family is not able, but those who are need to step it up! When I go somewhere, I invite others along. If I had a van, I’d probably invite more along. The point is we all can contribute in some way.
My oldest daughter is currently taking an English 10 Honors class that is NOT rigorous at all. I know it’s not an A.P. (advance placement) class, but geesh. I remember writing a lot of essays in college, and not just in the English classes. Our kids need tons of practice writing. I have my daughters write essays in a spriral notebook. During the summer weeks, they choose a topic (sometimes I decide) and write a minimum of one page about the topic. They used to call me mean for making them wake up early and write in the summer, but I explained to them that it’s for their benefit. The writing they are required to do from school is just not sufficient.
Our babies need so much more than what they get from school. As one can ascertain from reading the LA Times article, a 4.0 g.p.a. does not mean that a student will automatically excel in college.
Our kids need us to guide and mentor them and as parents, we need solutions. We all want our kids to succeed, so let’s get busy!