Who sees your kids more than you do? School teachers. Who has more opportunity to influence your kids than you do? School systems. Yet parents, for the most part, spend less time speaking about or thinking about what is happening at school and what are they being taught. We send them off in the morning expecting to see them at the end of the day but beyond that we don’t give their day much thought. We assume that they are looked after and that they are learning something useful. We trust schools and school systems to know how to do their job and we just accept the fact that when they graduate they will do fine “out there.” That is happening less and less on many fronts.
I often wonder how many parents actually take time at the end of the day to talk with their kids and ask about what they learned at school that day or how did school go today or what was something you learned today that you didn’t know anything about? In other words what happened that was interesting.
And so it goes. Each day the kid goes off to a place that parents know little about being told or given tons of data/facts that really don’t have much relevance to the kids everyday living experience and we, as parents, can’t understand why our kids aren’t crazy about going to school each day and doing better. Could it be that school is long, boring, and not much fun? There are any number of kids that would say the same thing when they get home at the end of the day. It was boring and they ask why they have to learn that stuff. Plus they have an hour or more homework to do for tomorrow and they don’t have a clue how to do it or what to do about it.
They sit in a classroom 6 rows across and 5 rows deep or vice versa for hours listening to a talking head fire data/information at them with the expectation that they will “get it.” And we can’t understand why some kids are trouble makers, disruptive or hard to manage. How many of those get diagnosed with ADD and put on meds?
Many questions remain when I think about the relevance of the current pedagogy and the value and relevance of the curriculum that is presented each new school year. Talk to some of the teachers and they will tell you what they think is going on but no one seems to hear what it is they are saying. They are trying to tell us that “we have to change how we do school-this system isn’t working.”
Along with those concerns is the bigger problem being the reluctance to change anything or update the overall approach of the public school system as it stands.
I know this much and that is that the system has become virtually unresponsive to the issues being mentioned. It needs to change dramatically and almost immediately if we hope to offer our children a chance to compete with other kids from other countries for challenging, rewarding and high paying jobs.
So how do we do that? Parents–whoever and wherever you are you need to get involved with what is happening with your kids future. That means you will have to become better informed about the options out there for your kids to gain an education that will help prepare them for the professional challenges of the 21st century. There are more options available than you know. The public system, although preferable, is not the only option. But to become more informed you need to talk to your kids and ask the right questions. Be prepared to listen to them because they are the experts on what is or is not working in today’s classrooms. They know what the changes are that need to be made and why they need to be made.
With a great deal of passion, assistance and input from a well informed and motivated group of colleagues and educators I have spent the last three years creating a new approach to educating our kids that addresses many of the issues I mentioned above.
First thing needed is to understand what some of the options are. Check out the differences and the pros and cons of Charter schools, magnet schools, public schools, private schools and home schooling. Once you understand some of the differences and the similarities you can now ask the important questions from the school board members and the trustees and you’ll know more about the quality and validity of the answers you get in return.
I’ll be writing much more about this topic in the weeks to come. I’ll share some of the solutions and suggestions that we came up with as a result of our research and from some of the actual experiences some of my colleagues had that worked in their classrooms but were never considered alternatives or even food for thought.
The following statement is the goal that we have identified for our group. It can be done but only if the parents who really care about the quality and the opportunity their kids receive speak up and are heard.
“To offer a new paradigm regarding a free, non-discriminatory, local, national, and global learner centered education program that merges enthusiasm, participation, and excitement with each learner’s unique differences, a capacity for high performance, and an innate desire to maximize self.”
I’ll be absent next week but I’ll write more about this in two weeks. Eventually I will provide an outline of the program we develop on my web page at jimcloughley.com
Anyways, that’s how I see things, all the best, Jim