The book “No Shortcuts” is an inspiration tale on one Maverick fifth grade teacher, Rafe Esquith, and the way he assists his students excel. His students live in poverty, gang ridden and drug infested world. Their parents cannot afford to take them to private schools and hence ends up in public school however good or bad they are.
Despair and violence are the norms of this neighborhood. Most come from single families living in abject poverty. Yet, they go to school six days in a week, score very highly and attend the finest universities in the world. The success behind this is spending much time with the students, set high standards for them and takes them out to observe the world.
He establishes classroom currency to motivate his students. He comes up with classroom community where former students can actively involve themselves after and before school hours. He considers art as a powerful inspirational and spirit-affirming educational tool as it helps students to gain practical skills and self-confidence.
Esquith believes that there we must be a powerful work ethic, dedication as well as determination on the part of the parents, teachers and students for us to be successful.
Esquith is against a society that holds on mediocrity in schools and culture. He supposes multicultural compassion. According to him, a high-quality teacher must be a social worker and a counselor as well as an intellectual. He says that teachers must cultivate a close personal rapport with their students and he insists on group projects. The teachers’ function is should be that of a facilitator (Esquith, 2003).
The school is degenerating, most staff are incompetent, have irrational curriculums and have what he thinks is a mistaken testing-accountability movement. The solutions to this are smart teachers, standard literature, extended school day and unrelenting effort. The major problem these children face is that they cannot speak English as their primary language.
Esquith emphasizes on the importance of parents getting involved in the appointment of teachers at their schools. He also encourages parents to be more concerned about their children’s performances and to be interested in what is going on with their children in school since only then can they be in a position to direct their children in the right way.
Esquith believe that there is no short cut to education rather than through hard work and he demonstrates this very clearly. His students arrive to school at 6:30 a.m and leaves at 5:00 p.m. They also come to school on Saturdays and during holidays.
Esquith criticizes the excessive amount of time set aside to celebrate ethnic cultures in politicians while most of the children who attend such ceremonies cannot read or write well in any language. He also opposes the bilingual-education system and opt to teach purely in English. He doesn’t understand how a child who is not fluent English can be expected to pass in entrance exams. For him, such a child has no chance of passing and that’s why he teaches in English.
Esquith strategy for rising students’ learning capacity involved setting high expectations for his students. He believed that his students can achieve amazing things and hence created the expectation that they will have performed. The whole responsibility lies with the teachers who are supposed to raise the students’ expectations and tell them when they are behind and lay out a plan of attack to help them catch up. He strongly emphasized on the importance of demonstration, explanation, imitation and more specifically repetition in learning (Esquith, 2003).
Esquith, R. (2003). No Shortcuts. Reprint edition. Virginia: Pacific Printing Press.