Was reading Assorted Stuff today. Tim Stahmer was quoting an interview (it’s becoming habit of mine to response to someone who is responding to someone who is responding…) of Alvin Toffler (who wrote Future Shock) who suggests we replace the public school system – not reform it. Now that would be an undertaking. Toffler suggests that education might not need to be compulsory, nor neccessary for each student to start at the same age.
Wow. See that makes so much sense. If we’re really worried about leaving no child behind, if we’re really interested in giving each child the best education that’s right for him, if we’re really interested in differentiating, then why do we have each child start school at five? And why aren’t classes made up of a range of ages? And I don’t mean how it is now because some kids fail, but with younger ages as kids reach grades early. Why do we start class at 8am (or whatever) for every student when not every student is ready to learn at the same time of day?
I don’t think this is going to happen in the near future – having kids start whenever, finish whenever. And it’s a lot to ask of a teacher. I can’t imagine a class full of kids at all those maturity levels even if they are on the same educational level. Or trying to teach different kids at different times. Yikes.
Tim Stahmer says,
we need to seriously reconsider what it means to be â€œwell educatedâ€, the purpose of school, and the role of teaching and learning in society.
That’s very scary for educators. Toffler is also quoted as suggesting that teachers only teach for three or four years, then go do something else and come back to teaching. I can just hear my husband right now. He’s not in public education and never has been unless you count substitute teaching between jobs, but he’s always says that if he were a principal he’d fire teachers after five years. He says after that they’re too set in their ways, not open to change, don’t know what the real world is like anymore. I guess he’s heard me gripe a little much, huh? The point is, I always thought that was just crazy-talk. I tried to explain that some of the older teachers embraced the changes, but really he’s right in a lot of ways. And to “hear” someone else suggest that teaching five years in a row is too long… well, it does give me pause.
Some of our better teachers are alternatively certified – meaning they didn’t go to college to be teachers but they made a career change and crash-coursed all those teacher classes. They have real-world experience and now they’re in the classroom. So they know what skills are necessary in the work force and they stress that when they teach. So this makes so much sense.
The idea would terrify and anger some teachers though. “I’ve been teaching for 20+ years! You want me to work somewhere else?! Are you KIDDING?! All I know how to DO is teach!” But if all you know how to do is teach, then you don’t know how to teach what kids need to learn. I think it’s a great idea, but I’m pessimistic of something like that actually happening.
I hesitate to share this because it may come across as hypocritical… but if I had the luxury of maintaining a high standard of living without working, I think I would homeschool my kids. It’s not that I think they’re getting a bad education. I love my 1st grader’s teacher, but I think with information all rightthereatyourfingertips I could do a better job of differentiating for my kids, only having three and knowing them as well as I do, than a paid educator could do with twenty. I wouldn’t have to schedule field trips. Wouldn’t have to wait for my weekly lab time. Wouldn’t have to subject my kids to so many standardized tests, and test them to prepare for the standardized tests, and test them to see if they’re prepared to prepare for the standardized test, and then tests to… well, you get the idea. But as a public educator, I don’t want other people to pull their kids out! There’s so much potential in schools – kids working together, learning WITH their teachers.
I’d like to think that if I could afford it I’d just get my kids’ school more technology and then volunteer and basically do what I’m doing now – support my teachers with integrating technology (yes, I said the “I” word). I would even get to avoid the yucky part of my job, like setting up servers and printers and fixing things or calling things in for repair or taking the brunt of it when the district’s email is down. But there would still be that testing, and I’d still be fighting for more engaging lessons and there’d still be all the red-tape for field trips, and there’d still be kids in my daughter’s class so far below my daughter’s level that the entire class would have to wait around so that he’s not “left behind,” and I’d still not be able to do the M&M graphs because the kids aren’t allowed to be given M&M’s and I could go on and on and it just makes me sad. It makes me sad and scared for my kids’ future and my future as an educator.
My thoughts are rambling, like they usually are, and I wish I had the time to sort them out better to post here, but if I waited for that they’d never be posted. I think, like both Stahmer and Toffler suggest, the questions and answers are scary. But I’m worried about public education and what it will be in the future if we don’t do something now. Still no answers from me.
[tags] schoolreform, school reform, education, nclb, alvin toffler [/tags]