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Reboot

Thomas Friedman had an interesting Op-Ed piece on the 23rd in the NYT - Time to Reboot. The basic premise of the article is that the US citizenry needs to make a shift in thinking from profit to creation. I totally agree, but that's another rant that I could write a very lengthy post about. No, instead I'd like to apply this idea to our education system. A system of creation, rather system of graphs and numbers.

In my experience (and yours may differ), our education system, our communities and we, as parents, aren't really interested in students actually learning. We're interested in numbers. How many African-Native-American-low-income-boys can read at some arbitrary level set by someone who wrote a book one time. If that student went from reading "Clifford The Big Red Dog" because he could read it quick, to reading "Night", do we care? Does this mean his reading level went up or that he finally found a book he liked? By studying the numbers, what are we creating?

Which leads to another question raised in the op-ed piece and in several other articles - are we just throwing good money after bad? The US spends billions on school and yet, they're always underfunded. Teachers are still quitting in five years or less and according to national statistics, students are loosing ground in education. Something is rotten in Denmark (sadly, few high school graduates can correctly place that allusion. Or know what an allusion is.). And it's more than just bad schools, bad teachers, bad students, bad government...

We aren't inspiring people who want to create. We're producing people who want to be famous and rich. A generation of would-be lottery winners. Not for creating something, but just for being something. I've had several would be famous hip-hop artists in my classes, but none of them want to put any work in actually writing anything. I remember one former student who swore he would be a writer as a job, but couldn't write a complete sentence. And nearly punched the luckless teacher who attempted to point this out. I could go on and on with the stories of student who expected that whatever they wanted would eventually fall into their laps with no effort on their part. Even so-called 'fun' assignments show little effort and generally end up as not much more than coloring pages glued to a poster board.

In reading the blogs of others, I can see educators fighting the same apathy and I can see people finding moments of brilliance. What kind of shift do I need to start to get more moments of brilliance and less apathy? How can my students to be inspired want to learn?

Comments

Teacher said…
You are so right. What good does this system do if it doesn't actually create thinkers and creators? A young woman I know, about to graduate high school, is a brilliant artist. Yet, she refuses to even look into an art career because it's "hard to make money"...

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