Friday, October 1, 2010

A moment on my soapbox

I'm having a moment and feel the need to stand on my soapbox. If you're not fond of listening to someone standing on a pulpit, I encourage you to leave now. But, if you do stay, I'll try to make it worth your while.
I have to say that all the recent talk and debate around the subject of education has become quite frustrating to me....as a teacher, as a mother, and as a product of public education. Honestly, I haven't listened to much of the news coverage on this topic during the past week, but I have overheard conversations and snippets here and there on the radio. That was enough for me! There are so many experts out there trying to figure out what is wrong with the state of public education and how we are going to fix it and raise the standards to be able to "compete" with other countries who continue to out perform. Continuously in education the pendulum swings and never seems to stop in the middle. We do one thing for a while and then bam, that's not the right way to do it, so we try something else. Meanwhile, our children are the guinea pigs in this science experiment that never truly seems to pan out. The hypothesis never seems to match the outcome and so we just keep trying, spending billions of dollars attempting to come up with the correct formula. Well, guess what people! Children are not science experiments, nor can they all be grouped into this one domain where what we do with one, we can do with all of them. Each is an individual being that must be guided and directed in the path that best suits them to have a successful life.
How do we do that? We get to know them, we talk with them, we show them we care. Once that is established they become willing participants in their education, an education that should be a partnership, not a dictatorship. If we all put aside the scores and data for just a minute, get to know our kids and work together with them, I truly believe the results will speak for themselves.
As parents, we can talk to our kids and engage them in life. Get them away from the monotony of video games and television and make them active participants in their lives and the lives around them. Talk to them in the car, at the dinner table, in the grocery store. Help them to experience all that they can and again, I believe the results will speak for themselves. In general, I think kids are "neglected" when it comes to social interactions with others, unless you count IMing and FBing...do I even need to go there, OMG!?
Finally, I am a product of public education. Do I think I had the "best" education...probably not. But, my education was not the sole determining factor in my success in life. My parents and upbringing was. Most of what I learned to be successful in life was because of what happened when I wasn't in school.
I do think that now sometimes the roles between parents and teachers is a bit blurred and well, that's another source of the problem.
My children will also be products of the public schools. Am I worried? Yes, I am worried about when they fall and hurt their knees on the playground or pee in their pants because they waited too long to go to the bathroom. I am worried that they will not like school and find it stressful and tiresome. If, in the end, they can't remember the phases of moon or the names of the constellations, they'll be ok! Perhaps, they just won't become astronomers.
For those of you who stayed until the end...thanks for listening.
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. "
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)