Education: Closed for Learning

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Top Ten Issues With Education (to date)

1)  We push for innovative classroom models, yet administrators balk at the idea of teachers from different schools, even within their district, let alone their own hallways, collaborating on successful models.

School boards, state superintendents and principals are scared of collective reason. We need to encourage teachers to share ideas, models and stories. We need to encourage the same collective idea-sharing that we read about – ironically from companies we strive to prepare our children to be hired by. Teachers need to feel safe with the idea of even getting coffee with colleagues. If we can’t spend money to send teachers to conferences to further their knowledge, we should allow them to learn from their surrounding peers.  It’s almost as if teaching is the only profession in which one is encouraged to NOT continue their education in their respective field.  School rivalries should not extend to the quality of education between schools within a district.

2)  We let administrators, removed from students, drive education policy.

Far too often teachers are left out of the policy process at every stage from conception to legislative vote. All teachers – every single one of them – should be made aware of major policy changes and given time to provide feedback. Teachers should be able to provide democratic input on education policy since they are the ones who actually educate children in school, unlike administrators.

3)  We let school boards continually push personal beliefs and politics into curriculum.

We need to accept the fact that there is more than one view of the world out there, and we need to acknowledge all of them.  We need to focus on graduating students that have the capacity to formulate their own opinions and not inherit the opinions of school board members.

4)  We force-feed children until age 18 and claim foul play when they revolt.

Children need to be given a seat at the table of their own education. While policy should not be set wholly by students for obvious reasons, feedback should be sought to ensure policies will be effective.  When students are more involved, more engaged and better informed, they learn more efficiently.  Teachers are only the conduit for education – if the other end isn’t conductible, the circuit won’t work.

5)  We ask teachers to give more, and then even more, and expect them to do it with less money, less supplies, less time – but with more rules.

We need class size limits, but they need to be set by districts, not by states. We need to have a “base student cost” that is required, but with additional, flexible funds for each district to increase that base cost to align with individual school needs. We need to let teachers dictate the needs of each class – crayons, paper, movies, tools, technology, and more. And we need teachers to have the flexibility to change those needs based on each year’s class.

6)  We praise adults who innovate new ideas, yet suffocate children as they try and color outside of the lines.

Teachers are told to stifle any sort of creative problem solving in the classroom, and then praised for it. Meanwhile Apple, Google and the like are busy embracing new solutions to old problems. When education is centered on a Scan Tron test sheet, and not the ability of a child to make this world better, we’re failing at being good stewards of this fragile world. God didn’t “copy and paste” when He made this world, and neither should we with our children.

7)  We pull art out of schools like it’s a precursor to failure – while in fact the number one quality employers now look for in employees is creativity.

We need “bell schedule equality” for the arts in school. The focus of arts education is not about creating art – it’s about learning how to make something out of nothing. It’s not about learning how to play the various scales on a trombone, it’s about learning how your instrument fits within the greater confines of the entire school band. It’s not about learning how to be a good actor, it’s about learning to speak in front of people, with other people, and making real-world themes more tangible than reading to yourself.

8)  We build school districts as large as humanly possible to “cut costs” and provide a way to standardize our education as if the goal of education is to create robots who can fill the same jobs.

We need smaller school districts, not larger ones. Localized education gives more freedom where it’s needed more – in the classroom.  It allows teachers to focus their lesson plans around the children and in their reality, rather than some in some politician’s Utopia. Creating smaller school districts provides administrators to curtail their evaluation standards to their teacher base, and not to the whims of states. But most importantly, it highlights the important role education plays in a community and weaves our children back into their own regions, neighborhoods and homes. You can’t standardize education if every single person on this earth has no, singular standard view on life.

9)  Teaching doesn’t pay enough.

Teachers should be among the highest paid public employees.  The future of our country and world spends 35 hours a week, or more, under their guidance.  Their focus, unlike ours, is never in the present, it’s in the future.  They should be justly compensated, recruited better than NBA draft picks and given the respect they deserve.  They shouldn’t have to worry about keeping standardized test scores at national levels in order to keep their job – they should worry about the student, the human being in the chair.  Undergraduate and graduate programs in teaching should focus on promoting quality teaching skills and not submissive teachers.

10)  We’re murdering any hope of our children succeeding.

We need to let children learn how to solve problems, not answer them.  Education is process, not a product.

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