I don’t buy the idea that kids don’t like school. I think most kids enjoy school when they are learning things that interest them. It is not that they don’t like school but rather they don’t like what and how they are being taught in school. Kids love to be taught new things that make them wonder about other things and so on. What they don’t like is being bored. They don’t like being told they have to learn subject matter that has no relevance to their world. Take for example the signing of the Magna Carta. Unless your child is a history geek he/she is not likely going to be interested in hearing about who signed it and why. So why do we bother to teach our kids old history? We are talking about their education, not ours. They should have a say in what they get to learn about.
I have been part of an effort to develop a new paradigm concerning education in the 21st Century. We have been studying this system of delivery for two years now and I can say with honesty and conviction that we have become very well ‘educated’ regarding the drawbacks of an old system that has had its time and expended its usefulness. There was a time when our system was the best in the world. That time has passed. What’s left are excuses for not meeting the challenge of change. I have listed 4 myths that attempt to explain why we are hanging onto a system that is stifling our children and their interest and excitement about learning.
1. MYTH: Our system is not ‘broken’ but rather it is evolving.
TRUTH: It is broken in the sense that it no longer produces eventual graduates who are fully trained and prepared to compete in the international marketplace for employment. Businesses are now saying that they would think carefully about hiring many of the applicants they interview because they do not demonstrate many of the hard and soft skills that the positions they are applying for demand. Skills such as writing, communicating, problem-solving and being able to collaborate easily are often not seen. The system can’t ‘evolve’ by making changes built on a base that is not relevant anymore. When we try to do that we just get more of the same outcomes. Not much new or innovative come from those efforts.
2. MYTH: More homework will make better students with better grades.
TRUTH: Up to date research reports that the opposite is true. Homework done at home provides very little if any improvement in the student’s class standing or his/her comprehension of the subject matter. The real learning takes place in a class setting where all the students can ask questions about home assignments and discuss answers openly. The teachers are present to manage any discussions and clarify answers if needed. In essence, the kids teach themselves.
3. MYTH: Teachers get paid more for doing less work.
TRUTH: I’m from Canada so I can’t speak for the U.S. system but I can say that that statement is about as far off base as you can get. Over the course of the last two years, my colleagues and I have worked to gather information on just about every facet of this issue. The teachers that I spoke to were dedicated, hard working, caring professionals who were frustrated at almost every turn by a system that has, to this point, been extremely reluctant to make any changes that would see educational information delivered much differently than it has been for the past 100 years. Rote learning is still the valued standard in the system. Students are encouraged to memorize and regurgitate information rather than learn how to think. Teachers are more concerned about the curriculum being suggested and how they are ‘encouraged’ to provide that information. The problem emanates from the board room and not the classroom. Let the teachers teach. That is what they get paid to do. Let’s turn them loose and I’m betting that it would not take too long for the kids to ‘wake’ up with a renewed interest in learning again.
4. MYTH: Too many teachers aren’t good at what they do.
TRUTH: I would say that there is a modicum of truth in this statement. As in many other professions, you can find some doctors who aren’t very good at what they do or some carpenters who aren’t good at what they do. Teachers are no different. The solution is not to blame ALL teachers but to implement spot evaluations for teachers and periodic supervision for all teachers. If they don’t measure up to the standards required then they either get some additional training or they get the door. Education is too important to play with and having teachers who are burned out or are not dedicated to doing their best shouldn’t be in a classroom. If it’s just a job they want then they should go sell used cars. I’m not knocking used car salespeople but it doesn’t take a great deal of dedication.
Now is the time for parents and caregivers to stand up and be heard. Take an interest in your child’s education. If they are struggling at school it is likely not all their doing. Take a hard look at the system and the quality of the curriculum and start to ask some questions about what the board is going to do to make changes regarding how education is delivered. DON’T settle for “it’s not up to us–that’s up to the teachers.” That’ a load of crap. We need to start to hold the trustees accountable for what they were elected to do.
Anyways, that’s how I see it, all the best, Jim
Your comments pro or con will find me at jimcloughley.com OR jim.lifechoice@gmail. com
*** Please send this along to family and friends. Thanks for stopping by.
Disclaimer: This photo resource is being used for the purposes of Education, research and/or criticism. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this resource and the provider remains unknown to me.