If you are reading this, you have probably started to think about the problems our education system is facing and wondering how we can fix this mess. Maybe you are a parent worried about your child’s learning experience or maybe you are an educator. Whoever you are, thanks for questioning the status quo and the system currently in place.
You likely have your own ideas about both problems and solutions. We need as many fresh ideas as possible to reinvigorate and reinvent schools. I want to hear from you, I want to know what you think needs to change and more importantly how to change it.
This first article will tackle what I see as the mountain of problems currently plaguing our educational system.
I am coming at this issue with an insider perspective. I am currently a teacher in a poor school full of disadvantaged students, where the problems are manifested in extreme ways.
What I see on a daily basis frightens me. So what do I see?
I see students who are forced to try and learn a certain way, despite their learning styles being diverse. I see material presented that is irrelevant to the students both now and in the future. I see students given information without any thought of how the student can connect to it.
I see an obsession with testing and metrics when the tests are poorly written and are biased towards certain segments of the population.
I see a system that disregards and ignores poverty, that pretends we are all given the same footing.
I see students apathetic towards learning, unable to connect with either the content or the teacher.
I see parents that are dismissive of the education system because of their own experiences in school or frustrated with how it is working for their child.
I see extreme behavior issues. I work in special education and spend hours a day with kids who either can’t or won’t conform. This is a big problem in the mainstream classes as well. These students have impulse control problems, an inability to maintain attention, aggressive tendencies, can’t regulate their emotions, and become frustrated and agitated with schoolwork.
It may sound like I am harping on the students, but it is the lack of a good response to these problems that helps keep my school struggling.
I see teachers unprepared and unsupported. Teachers are highly motivated and hard working, but they are severely hindered by the system they work within. The expectations and demands of the federal, state and local governments have taken away autonomy. The bureacracy and red tape is strangling teachers. They are so limited, the entire profession has been diminished.
I see a failure of teacher education programs to properly prepare teachers. I see a system that does not support teachers or give them the on-the-job training they really need.
I see a society that neither respects or values teachers. I feel undervalued in my pay and in my work with the future of our country. I feel less respected than other professionals of similar education.
I see a failure to make the necessary changes to adapt to both changing students and a changing world.
As we move forward through the 21st century, the educational needs of children and adults are evolving. The economy has changed and different skills are needed to survive in the world.
Technology has also rewired how we take in the world. We move at a breakneck pace and are bombarded with information at a constant rate.
Technology has changed how people interact with the world, we are fundamentally different today from how we were 30 years ago.
Not only do we need to change what we are teaching, but how we teach it.
I see a current situation where educators, students and parents are disgusted.
I see a need to fight for change. We need to combat the politicians, administrators, school board members, and Department of Education officials who are perpetuating the system for their own gain. We need to take back control of how our kids are taught.
Thanks for reading.