Unique Issues

Judiciary Reform & SOI

Aiza Sanchez founded Centro SOI Saltillo 16 years ago. In 2010, she was introduced to the judicial powers by the former director of the psychology faculty. The judges and judicial staff were having difficulty changing from one judging system to the other.

Their first evaluation was in 2011, and they have been evaluating ever since. Last November, Centro SOI Saltillo trained 8 judges and 20 public attorney defenders with the auditory program and SOI modules.

The judiciary system reform in Mexican has been changing for the last seven or eight years from a system called “Inquisitive” to a system called “Accusative.” There are principal differences in the systems. First, the system changed from a “law” fundamental to a “human rights” fundamental. Second, the process changed from a written to oral form.

Coahuila state was one of the first states to initiate this change. One of the main issues in the process of changing from one system to another was developing strategies to prepare the professionals in the justice system not only in their knowledge of the law, but in their intellectual abilities, emotional stability, job competences, and constructive cognitive processes.

Acquiring knowledge about Continue reading “Judiciary Reform & SOI”

learning skills, Testing, The Basics, training

Those Darn Potholes

I agree.  My topic and thoughts today sound odd.  I stand accused of thinking too much about educational challenges, even when sitting in a long line of cars out at the coast of Oregon.  A large section of Highway 101 was being repaired for potholes.  In the section I was at, it is only a two lane road and the wait ended up to be about 15 minutes going and coming.  I was not driving, so I looked up how much potholes cost the American people – billions of dollars.  AAA reports the cost of automobile damage resulting from potholes to be 6.5 billion dollars a year.

For learners in our educational system, the learning continuum has many potholes.  Learning numbers is easy, but letters and letter sounds is not.  Having a great story to write in our thoughts is never expressed in a timely fashion due to struggles with handwriting, spelling, or grammar.  Algebra comes more easily than geometry or the other way around.  Time spent studying for a test is met with low scores due to poor memory.  The history teacher is interesting to listen to, but reading from the history text is a painful experience of reading and rereading to comprehend the unfamiliar information and numerous facts.  The potholes in learning are as numerous as in our roads after a hard freeze.  Billions of dollars are spent in education on students who struggle to successfully navigate their way through education.

What does this failure to navigate successfully do to the self-esteem and motivation of our students?  What poor decisions are made by students out of frustration and repeated failure?  How many students turn off the main road and travel roads that lead to negative consequences?  How do you start the engine of motivation to learn when on empty?

The SOI (Structure of Intellect) Assessment of Learning Ability is the GPS system in learning.  We Continue reading “Those Darn Potholes”

SOI News

Public Education in the United States: From an A to a C- in 60 Years


The Golden Age of U.S. Public Education

The “Golden Age” of public education culminated in the 1950s. It had steadily improved from one-room schools to become comprehensive, twelve-year systems. It was viewed as the primary means of upward social mobility.

  • U.S. schools consistently ranked among the top tier in International Assessments.
  • Schools were comfortably financed locally through property taxes.
  • School support was widespread, bolstered by local control.
  • The institutions of higher learning were generally satisfied with the high school graduates they were receiving.
  • The workforce had little difficulty absorbing those students who stopped their education at the secondary level.

In short, the system was fulfilling its mission of providing free education to all. As a social service enterprise, it deserved a grade of “A”.

The U.S. Public Education Today

In the past 60 years, public education has deteriorated on almost all counts.

  • U.S. schools are now in the middle group on International Assessments.
  • Schools are chronically underfunded to the degree that their programs are compromised.
  • School constituency support has waned, in large measure, because local control has been displaced by state and federal directives.
  • The institutions of higher learning are having to “educate” incoming students before they successfully enter a college curriculum.
  • The workforce now considers a large segment of high school graduates as “unemployable.”

The system has clearly slipped in meeting its mission. As a social service enterprise, it deserves a “C-” performance.

The Chronicle of Deterioration

This steady decline has has been documented in many ways. The first Continue reading “Public Education in the United States: From an A to a C- in 60 Years”


Earthly Good

“This is so frustrating!”

“It’s too hard!”

“I can’t do it anymore!” 

“Why are you making us learn this?”

One would think those statements are coming from students in the classroom, but they are actually coming from the teachers.

Have you heard the saying, “They are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”? How sad that this nation has become so fixated on “racing to the top” of the education mountain that we are blinded to the fact that we have caused anxiety, heartache, and disillusionment in our teachers.

At what point do we make the change back to the basics in education? How long before school district superintendents say “enough” and operate their district based upon the children’s needs?

Yes, we understand that funds are always the issue. Money is tight, classrooms are large, new curriculum is mandatory, and the only way to meet the budget is to cooperate with the powers that be. But with all these barriers, the policy makers say our children’s ability to score high on the standardized tests is the benchmark of how well a teacher performs his or her duties. Really!?

Personally, I know of teachers who identify learning issues in students Continue reading “Earthly Good”

certified learning, Classrooms

Starting Education with a Solid Foundation

There are two alarming “trends” in the classroom that I have observed as a teacher. First, children are frequently focussed on getting their school work done quickly at the expense of doing it well. Conscientious children or those who take pride in using discretion and ‘getting it right’ are in the minority. It doesn’t help that video games usually reward speed over accuracy.

The other trend is students taking social direction from TV shows. Unfortunately, the characters that are emulated are often superficial, stereotyped, and unkind. Competition to be ‘cool’ leads otherwise basically soft-hearted children to become aloof or exclusive. Concurrently, children with borderline social abilities may experience little friendship from one day to the next.

The SOI Certified Learning program was established so that all students would get foundational skills in a systematic way from kindergarten up. Students move at their own pace and master all the basics of their learning module before moving on to the next one. Certified Learning is a program that teachers and students love! Children take responsibility for their own progress and teachers are able to provide one-on-one assistance as needed.

As a by-product of the system, children are taught that accuracy is important and that they are not being compared to one another. They quite naturally assist their fellow students and celebrate each other’s success.

One of the biggest problems for teachers in our traditional classrooms is that the number of children who are able to attend to teachers’ group instructions throughout an entire day is decreasing. The hyperactive students are immediately in trouble as they are unable to ‘sit and listen’ with any regularity. The non-hyperactive students who have difficulty learning by auditory instruction also become disruptive as their tolerance wears thin or they develop the habit of ‘tuning out’. SOI Certified Learning tackles this problem.

How does the Certified Learning system work?

Students are assigned to various stations. A small group will begin at the computer. The first week of computer establishes that accuracy, Continue reading “Starting Education with a Solid Foundation”

Classrooms, Unique Issues

Can We Play in School?

Spring has arrived in full bloom here in Texas, and with the beautiful weather, I am gratefully reminded of how enjoyable it is to see our kids play. Here at Shady Oak Learning, we take play seriously. It is embedded in our school day. Children who come here have about an hour and a half of free play time outdoors throughout the day. Why? Because research supports that play is an essential part of brain growth and behavior development. Children who move and play show significant increase in IQ.

According to David Elkind, professor emeritus of child development at Tufts University and author of The Power of Play, children spend 50% less time out doors than they did in the late 90’s while passive leisure, such as watching television and playing electronics, has increased dramatically. Research especially shows that the kind of play that promotes sociodramatic play, where children participate in make-believe activities, can increase children’s success in school.

When we found the spot for our current school, one of the requirements was that there was a play space big enough for our kids to run and play. Fortunately, we walk to a neighborhood park a half a block away. I was concerned at first that there was no playground equipment; it was just an open space with trees and a sidewalk surrounding it. I have been fascinated with the play activities the children have come up with, such as making castles with princess and knights, cops and robbers, and, of course, cowboys and Indians. Sometimes I observe them just running laps or walking and talking around the park, Continue reading “Can We Play in School?”

Classrooms, learning skills

The Two Most Important Variables in Education

The entire movement toward teaching-to-the-test can be boiled down to two achievement variables:  comprehension and time – how much is learned and how long it took.

In almost every achievement metric, one of these variables is held constant – and the other is the variable of measure.  So, the prevailing paradigm in almost all formal education is to hold time constant and have comprehension be the variable.

An important corollary to the achievement axiom often goes unnoticed; namely, if the established education has opted for lock-step instruction, then it has already opted for the paradigm of holding time constant and letting comprehension vary.  Again, this is the prevailing paradigm in almost all formal education – teach a given unit to the entire class for a specified length of time.

Now, if the authorities infuse this system with a policy that ALL students must reach full comprehension by the end of the teaching schedule – all students must comprehend the unit by the end of the scheduled time – then there will be a conceptual shift throughout the institution:  comprehension will morph into passing-the-test; and practice will morph into teaching-to-the-test. Continue reading “The Two Most Important Variables in Education”