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A learning atmosphere

New York Teacher

Healthy and positive relationships among students and between teachers is an essential component of improved academic performance. When students feel positive and optimistic about themselves and how they relate to others, better academic performance follows.

It may be counter-intuitive to emphasize the arts, sports and club activities in order to increase academic performance (and test scores), but drilling and preparing students for standardized tests as it is presently being done is just not working. Learning, even when difficult, must be presented as positive and nurturing, not the drudgery of drilling for the singular purpose of a standardized test. Create an atmosphere that is conducive to positive relationships and improved academic performance will follow.

The contemporary student is learning in a highly toxic and frightening environment where mass shootings are commonplace; internet disinformation is perilous; the effects of climate change are worsening; student debt, opiod addiction and suicides are on the rise; and crises in housing, health care and higher education seem insurmountable. Now there is the possibility of another Middle East war! We cannot ignore the effect such a seemingly catastrophic environment has on how students think and learn.

Larry Hoffner, retired

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