I just finished watching a video on youtube of an event that Sir Ken Robinson was speaking at. It is a long video, but definitely well worth the watch. He outlines in the video that education does indeed need to be reformed, but is the current state of our reform the correct one? I agreed with most everything that he said. He spends a lot of time talking about the reasons education became necessary was solely for economic utility. Students went to school so that they could perform the basic functions needed to work and make money. School was very similar to a factory assembly line. We all sit in desks, bell rings, switch classes, lunch, etc. I feel that our world has changed drastically since the need for this type of education.
We have a new generation with new learners, but haven't made much of a change in our educational systems and can't seem to figure out why are students aren't performing to the level we want. We haven't changed much of anything. Currently our nation is rolling out "common core standards" which I feel like still mirrors the assembly line type of education. All need to learn these core standards and let's put the emphasis on English Language Arts and Math and leave little or no time for any other subject matter. Our students are being forced down paths that they may or may not feel passionate about. I do agree that reading, writing and math are very important, but it belittles everything else in our world. We often put mandates on our students that take away the things they love and turn them into something required.
Currently in my district we are required to do a 90 minute reading block with no interruptions, across the board K-12. Students that love to read and enjoy being read to do not necessarily enjoy a forced 90 minute reading block. We often think that if we require something to happen then our scores will improve and the students will learn more. I really resonated with Sir Ken Robinson when he said people do their best when doing what they love. My own children love to read. On weekends they could spend hours curled up in a chair reading a book of their choosing without me telling them to, but when they are forced to read a book someone else chose in a forced time frame they hate it. We take away the joy and the passion for learning for forcing all students to do what we ask without asking them what they "love to do". Putting all the emphasis on English Language Arts and Math isn't going to ignite passion in our students for the most part...it's going to put the fire out. Students want to be heard, they want to learn about things that are important to them. We put them in a room with other students and force them to learn what we think is most important and don't allow them to be creative or imaginative. We expect them to all learn the same set of information in the same given time frame in the same way.
As a teacher, I see the struggles and the need for change, but when we ourselves our mandated to teach a certain way, at a certain time, with a certain set of curriculum...how do I fix it? It needs to be a complete change in thinking and I feel like until the people that are closest to education are able to help make the big decisions the current state of problems and issues will continue. My own school is a project-based charter school with a lot of flexibility in how we educate, but it is still very difficult with district and state mandates and requirements and assessments that often say what you can and cannot do. Our students are in a changing world with information at their fingertips, but yet we send them to schools that our teaching much like they did fifty years ago. Our students deserve better.
You can watch the video by clicking on the link.Changing Paradigms