I really do get tired of hearing about educational reform and all the great things it is going to bring with it. My burning question is:
Are all these great reforms actually going to make a positive difference to the students that I teach or even my grandsons (who haven’t started school yet)?
From where I stand today – it isn’t likely.
What are the educational expectations going to be in our/their future?
- Is education supposed to prepare students for the workplace?
- Is education supposed to give students basic citizenship skills?
- Is education supposed to provide students with the ability to read, write and perform basic mathematics?
- Is education supposed to allow poor students change their social class?
- Is education supposed to teach social skills?
- Is education supposed to teach students to think critically?
- Is education supposed to teach students to follow directions?
- Is education supposed to teach all students — what?
- Is education supposed to …. put in your own question.
There are so many questions about what education is supposed to do, that in my opinion we really don’t know what our real national or local expectations of education are. I know that this topic has been raised and debated by many people and I really don’t believe that there has ever been a real answer to the question.
What do we expect of education?
I am a teacher, not a policy maker, but I really still don’t know what our educational system is supposed to achieve for our students or our society. There are policy statements and mis-statements, mission statements, student-centered learning statements and all kinds of other statements, many of which have conflicting goals about what education is supposed to do. With all these conflicting goals, policies and initiatives which one do you choose to say we are succeeding or failing at? Right now it means special interest groups can cherry-pick the assertions that support their ideological stance or position
Our national education policy has become much like a drunk driver in a car traveling 100 mph down the road at midnight and hoping that all the cops are somewhere else while you try to get home. Hoping that the car makes it and that you don’t crash before you get there. All the while knowing that you are not doing the right thing and just don’t want to get caught at it.
In the U.S. we have changed directions in education and the Country’s expectation of what happens in our schools so many times that we no longer know what direction we are coming from or even worse where we should be going.
The reality is that today we get to listen to rhetoric, fantastical claims of great or horrible things that are being done in education by different special interest groups that have their own motivations good and bad for educational reform.
What is the truth about educational reform and what will be the best for our students? I don’t believe that we really know, it seems that the “truth” depends upon your idealogical point of view (political, religious, educational philosophy, school choice, business affiliation, political party, etc.), more than what the facts are.
It bothers me is that educational reform in the U.S. appears to be taking shape to be a nationalized standards based, data driven, leaning towards a publicly- privatized educational system that focuses on the needs of the adults, not the needs of the students. Will under this new educational system the law requiring a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) take on a completely different interpretation by government. It could because there are more than a few that don’t believe that education is a right, but that it is a privilege that needs to be earned.
I am not naive, I understand that the power brokers are going to get the educational system that they want, irregardless of how it may negatively affect a portion or minority of our overall student population…as the old saying goes “power and money talks” and unfortunately most of us don’t have either.
So I guess I will continue to monitor our national educational philosophy and policies, whine a little bit in my blog, bitch a bit at school or on Twitter to my fellow teachers, write a letter or two my representatives (that will get filed away with no action), attend policy meetings or public hearings that are usually held during the school day when I can. Until changes happen I plan to just continue to teach my students the best way that I can that meets their needs within the structure of the new pedagogy.
When I say this today, I really mean it: Remember it is about the students, not the adults, so do the right thing for the right reason.
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