The last time I checked…adults were supposed to be the ones providing good examples for children. Ironically, the opposite seems to be occurring the wider we focus our lens. If you happened to peruse the top headlines yesterday you would have seen stories like these:
“Governors Propose National Education Standards…48 governors seek nationwide standards for what kids learn in school”
At first glance you might say, “What’s the big deal?” You might even say that we have heard these stories before. If you dig a little deeper, though, you will see how desperate our educational system is at the present moment. The Kansas City school board voted to close down 28 out of 61 schools saving approximately $50 million dollars and shedding 700 jobs. CNN is reporting that schools in 17 states have opted to run four day weeks. The federal government assembled the nations governors in an effort to standardize English and Math standards. And…do I even need to comment on the fact that 48 out of 50 agreed. Alaska? Texas? I will take the 5th at the moment…hoping that they have better solutions to the ever-growing gap between American kids and the REST of the world.
As I dust my hands off from these appalling stories like a brick layer tired of the cement after a long arduous day…I find the story that has been plastered everywhere…little Carlos who calmly called 911 while protecting his sister as armed gunman stormed his home. As the media descends on this little guy we all find out that his mother regularly went through the proper procedures during an emergency. Smart. Concise. Thoughtful. These are the words that come to mind when I think about the effort made by his mother to lay the foundation for difficult work.
She is just one woman whereas the state and federal agencies and representatives are vast and, supposedly, representative of our communities.
It is refreshing to know that somebody is being educated these days…even if reading, writing, and arithmetic are not. The irony can be found in the manner with which our educators are approaching the various problems at hand (i.e. low test scores, crowded classrooms, declining educator skills etc.)…and the irony is that we are scrambling to fix the problem.
We are scrambling like a kid who forgot he had a book report due today. Our schools are eroding, literally and figuratively, and the only thing we can think of is to throw test scores at the wall. We have decided to treat education and our children like NASCAR vehicles plastered with ads. It is and will always be about the almighty dollar unless we begin to focus on the way(s) children learn. Innovation does require funding and support from multiple levels. It requires a humble mindset. A way of thinking that looks at the experience of the audience….the child.
And, if that pains you too much to think about then think about what you liked/disliked when you were a student. What connected you to the material, inspired you to put forth the effort, and provided you with an overall pleasurable experience? It really isn’t that difficult. How do teachers and administrators feel? What works for them and what continues to befuddle them? After my work in education over the past 10 years I can tell you that the general consensus from educators is that they are inundated with new “campaigns” on a yearly and sometimes semester basis. A new way to score, a new way to observe, new boxes to check…and all we are doing is creating mass burnout.
You are getting slews of educators that aren’t enjoying their jobs anymore. They are asked for more and more with less and less professional development and support. The children see this coming and what you end up with is the makings of a perfect storm. Two disenfranchised groups of people who can’t wait for the awful song to be over…kinda like Simon Cowell screaming “rubbish!” after a grueling 2 minute karaoke audition. Ladies and gentlemen…we are not auditioning educational principles…we are preparing the next generation so that they will prepare the next.
It is sad that widespread education has become a laughing stock to the participants and to our global neighbors. We have been so concerned with a child’s behavior that we have failed to ponder whether or not it is actually our methods that are eliciting dry heaves from our children.
We want our children and educators to wake up with some degree of optimism not pessimism. Tough decisions lie ahead. Some will be unpopular…some desperately needed. Get out of your comfy lazzyboy, stretch your legs, and get ready to stand up for the needs of the new world and the children tasked with saving it.
All the Best!