EDITOR'S DESK: All eyes on Shoal River

Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 01:38 PM.

You know Lady Gaga: the singer who’s been known to wear meat and plush frogs as dresses, an artist who performs with blood dripping from her face and will do absolutely anything for attention.

In other words, a distraction.

Often, meaningless things distract us. Whether they’re politicians reciting the same tired talking points and ignoring the public’s questions; pop stars mindlessly instructing us to “just dance” when we could be doing something constructive and worthwhile like feeding the poor; or cell phone alerts that indicate waiting text messages while we’re driving, so much noise in our lives diverts us from things that actually matter.

Kids don’t have it so easy, either.

When I was in grade school, in the 1990s, 30 students had one teacher who taught the core curriculum and regularly traded with another teacher for an hour or so when special subjects arose. There were switch-outs for computer and P.E. classes, too, of course. However, imagine the distractions that arose from 29 classmates who passed notes, threw spitballs and mocked the teacher when her back turned.

That’s why the News Bulletin is particularly interested in Shoal River’s learning communities, which represent a first for Okaloosa County schools. (See “Learning the Mustang Way,” on A1 of today’s edition.)

Dividing students into groups of four, or “pods,” and having them take such an active role in the curriculum, means students have fewer opportunities to distract classmates — all eyes are on them.

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