I don’t normally blog about education, especially elementary and secondary education. I’m married to a former teacher and I went to school. So I really only have my own experience to go by. I’m no expert on the subject, which is why it’s a bit dangerous to comment on education. I know many dedicated teachers, many who are my good friends and I have family members who are educators. I think what they do is amazing. I’m not interested in criticizing them, they deserve a lot of praise for their dedication to children and education.
I did read a couple of articles that I think deserve some attention. The titles are what drove me to read them – “School is a prison – and damaging our kids.” The other article was titled – “Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked by what she learns.” These are interesting articles and well worth the read. Salon and the Washington Post are hardly disreputable sources either.
When I attended elementary school and secondary school, it was good mostly. I was a good student and so I did well. I followed the rules and got through it. I certainly wasn’t popular by any means, but I knew that school popularity was overrated anyway – you grow up and start really living and guess what – all that popularity in school is worthless.
But when I look back at my education these articles struck a chord for me, especially since I have kids of my own who are in school. And on top of that, they are in a school in Finland, which does school differently.
When I reflect on my own experience, I’ve always had the notion that our American schools are really good at getting kids ready for 19th and 20th century jobs, because that’s what our education system was designed for. It’s a bit behind the curve. I don’t think I’m out in left field on this – a great deal of testing results show the US falling in many areas.
That’s not to say that some areas of education are trying to make some changes – they are. They try to incorporate technology, or play around with the seating, etc. But I’m not sure these address the main issue – the essence of what education should be about. I think they are just superficial changes that will not make significant change.
I don’t claim to know the answers for this. I just sense that something isn’t right and something isn’t working well for our children today. I have no doubt that the current system worked well for an earlier generation(s). But things change.
Churches are experiencing this same challenge – and I think there are parallels with education. Some churches play with the seating or incorporated technology, but don’t look at the core of what it means to be church.
Businesses (businesses that survive and thrive ) recognize the need to adapt to changing times and needs and styles and attitudes. That’s not to say that we should get our education answers solely from business. Business exists to make a profit, not to educate. Profit is the end motive.
So what if we started with some questions – what is the end product/result we are looking for with education? What if none of the structures and organizations and power systems in education existed and we were to start from scratch and build it up? What would it look like? I’m guessing that our answer in 2014 would be significantly different that it would have looked 100 years ago, or 50 years ago, or even 10 years ago. The answer will look different 10 years from now too. That’s not to say that what people have done in education in the past is wrong or bad. It was the best answer for that context. I’m just not sure that the context is the same anymore.