Sunday, February 10, 2013

Changing Paradigms

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'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 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


  1. I agree that when students are forced into a particular activity they are far less willing to participate and less likely to enjoy it. We do need to make changes in education and more knowledgeable people need to be making decisions relating to education. Who is going to step up to be that voice?

  2. I just took the past 30 minutes to respond to your blog and for one reason or another it just disappeared. Here's a summary of what I wrote...

    Angela, you did a great job recapping the major points of Sir Ken Robinson presentation, so I won't bother to repeat those major points. He did a good job recapping our educational system, but there is such a need for change and reform but the common core standards seem to be an updated mask of the state standards. How true in the past that the public education was structured for the benefit of a few and sent the majority out to manufacturing etc. to keep the economy growing.

    One powerful statement to hold on to is to remember that people do their BEST when they are doing what they do best. This is what needs to drive instruction in order to build relationships and acceptance of each of our differences. Does this make sense that we should have fewer children on medication for ADHD symptoms? When you don't allow for movement and engagement many typical children will get restless and out of control.

    It was interesting to see the stats about our capacity as a kindergartener: 98%, 8-10 years: 32%, 13-15 years: 10% and 25 + 2%. Wow, that's sad.

    We must remember to not let our seeds go without healthy soil, water and sunlight or we need to be prepared for the end of life for this group of seeds.

  3. Angela

    Your final paragraph was very well written and stated. It is one thing for us, as the professionals, to see the need for change. However, when there are decisions being made by those above us that determine what we teach, when we teach and how we teach given subject areas, it makes it difficult to make changes.

  4. Wonderfully spoken! I feel the pressures daily of what I have to teach and I am constantly thinking of ways to motivate and excite my students!

  5. You make a great point with your idea on reading. When we're forced to do something it does tend to make it less enjoyable even if it is something we previously enjoyed!

  6. Angela, no set of rules can completely limit the individuals ability to act. We need to change the big picture for sure, but we also need to observe the limits of our agency and work right up to them! :)

  7. Angela, no set of rules can completely limit the individuals ability to act. We need to change the big picture for sure, but we also need to observe the limits of our agency and work right up to them! :)