Friday, April 24, 2009

Is Our Children Learning? -OR- Education State

The outcomes are unknown. That's why we play the games.
The final score is just one aspect of the game. A caste system that establishes worth too early is damaging.
A Community helps most by defining what schools are and standing behind it. Telling kids that school is just one PART of education. And not always the most important part, in the same ways, for each and every kid. It's not a sprint, it's not even a marathon because it's not a race. But it IS important, is survivable and has something that rightfully belongs to them.

The problems in education basically arose from trying to establish one way and one way only to define education for everybody. Anyone who says kids aren't as smart as they once were doesn't interact much with kids. They're 10x smarter than I was at their age. They're exposed to 10x more than I was at their age. Where education fails is insisting that they all know exactly the same stuff in exactly the same ways.
And only the "approved" stuff.

Education fails when the curriculum changes more often than the textbooks, or bad curriculum is NOT changed because the cost of new textbooks isn't in the budget. Education fails when its thought that knowlegde comes ONLY from textbooks and curriculum. Education fails when all the ragged edges of student interests and talent are ground off so that all can be "accurately" compared to each other. Measuring only certain talents and attributes.

Schools that work are a reflection of and relevant to the community. Not some winner take all contest. The whole spectrum of talents, interests and abilities cannot be accommodated in a "normal" 6 or 7 hour/180 day school year. It's never best to nsist that all move through the same materials at the same speed gleaning the same knowledge. We know enough about human behavior, group dynamics and hierarchical structures to know that life isn't a one-size-fits-all exercise. We also know that K-12, while formative years are not the alpha and omega. This isn't Lake Wobegon, Acme Widgets or Apple vs. PC.

We have off-ramps for "disruptive" students, identified or connected "gifted" students and "special" students. The rest? What are they? Low-maintenance? NO maintenance?

Even what we're not teaching kids is teaching them. When you tell a 3rd grader that he's fallen behind in the race, and keep telling him at each milepost how much further behind he is, but you won't let him quit? And you cow the kids and parents with experts? And somehow, the kid makes it through intact? That's education?

The best thing we can do for kids is stop looking at the scoreboard and pay attention to the game.

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