I’ve always been kinda’ “out there” when it comes to ideas. People today call it “innovative” and I really like that term. It makes me feel special, but I really don’t think this idea is “out there”.
I know this idea is spot on because many other people have the same one. Just check out Twitter if you don’t believe me. It’s just not catching fire fast enough.
I was brought up in a really conservative family who were a really stable influence. It was perfect in many ways. The problem was that in some ways it didn’t fit me. Sure, I walked the walk and talked the talk, but I always felt “different”. Being stable & doing what you’re told was respectable.
I’m a curious knowledge-craver, risk-taker who values deep understandings and analyses over “do what you’re told”. You know what? I finally broke. I wasn’t made to be stuck and serve no real purpose.
I don’t blame my parents. They wanted what they thought was “best” for me and for awhile, I convinced myself it was what I wanted too, but there was always something missing.
So, I grew up to be a teacher (what used to be a pretty well respected career), but in the back of my mind I had plans to change the world. To change sitting in desks in straight rows into sitting on the floor, to move from raising your hand to speak to calling out and inviting debates into conversations. I did all that. It still wasn’t enough. I had big plans (I still do!).
I walked out on 23 years of teaching and a comfy salary with a secure benefits package all because the screws were too damn tight.
I could only play the game so much and when it goes against 95% of what I believe, I’m done. I could only infiltrate a system for so long before they discovered I was doing my own thing for way too long and they realized they needed to stop me (and others like me) before we changed the system. They felt threatened -as they should.
You can only twist the screws so far until they don’t tighten anymore- they loosen & fall out.
There are many more of us in the field of education. The powers-that-be intend to tighten the screws so tight that they’ll never loosen and teachers will be stuck there forever- cemented in that one position with no wiggle room.
I only made it look like I was on tight. Stuck in one place with nowhere to move isn’t the place to be. Check into the backgrounds of principals and administrators. They don’t last long as teachers. It’s rare to find one who taught 10 years. I guess they figure out it’s easier to be the wrench and do the tightening (and make double the salary with less the hassle) than it is to do what you’re told and stay stuck.
Sometimes holding teachers in place works and sometimes it doesn’t. Others loosen, fall out, and roll away never to be heard from again. Often, they’re replaced by another screw to begin tightening all over again- holding the education machine together.
It’s a massive machine.
It’s time to dismantle it.
You see, if everyone does what they’re told and stays in place, the machine runs smoothly producing widgets by the millions. But, if a screw, or 10, or 100 loosen the machine, it wobbles and out pops a widget that’s a little different. Pretty much, it continues until those screws are “fixed”.
The issue is, in a free market people desire all kinds of widgets. Think about it. Almost every other part of your life allows for choice. You have a choice of job, residence, food, drink, clothing and on and on and on.
Heck, I can pick any cell phone plan I want, while I surf the web checking out websites that interest me all while drinking a Coca-Cola bottle with my name on it. Yet, my most precious children have limited options of where to go to school. Public, religious, and the occasional magnet or Montessori school is it for choices in education. Life in the United States is in designer mode and yet my child is forced to attend a school for 12 years from a pot of 4 choices?
The problem is that our educational machine is broken and few are brave enough to try to fix it. Sure, there’s Ken Robinson in the UK, and there’s the occasional private school that bucks the system, but they’re few and far between. How did our individuality become so standardized? It shouldn’t be.
How can education be fixed?
Step One- Dismantle the machine.
If enough screws fall out (teachers leaving), the machine will begin to break down. Rebuilds will be different. If you can do it from within, do it. We need you-teachers. We need you to say, “enough” and really mean it. We need the machine to go.
Step Two– Create a variety of new educational options.
Yes, there millions of children to educate. There should be tons of options out there and they should all be different.
Democratic schools, Montessori, Waldorf, Classical, religious schools, Homeschooling; heck, even charter schools offer new choices. Keep the public schools, but the funding needs to go with the child- wherever he goes.
Sorry public school educators, you don’t get preference. Every child is different and the kids who need YOU and YOUR STYLE will come; but only if they have the opportunity to CHOOSE you- not when it’s mandated and forced. You’re part of the problem that way- not the solution. If you’re really doing education right, they’ll come.
Step Three- Information Leaks
I don’t think most people step back and honestly take a look at the machine and how their contributions actually provide the fuel. Voice your opinions and tell others what’s wrong. Most people are looking to fit in and feel comfortable with their choices. They’re looking for someone to tell them what to do. That’s how we got where we are now. It’s time to take responsibility for your decisions, but take a good look at your options and do what’s best for YOU and for children.
Step Four- Pop out and roll away.
Sometimes as teachers, we stay when it doesn’t make any sense to us because it’s for the kids and what will they do without us? Guess what, they’ll move on and so will you. You can’t make a difference alone (and neither can I), but until more teachers leave and say, “It’s broken” on their way out the door, things will stay the same.
Keep trying to share what you know with others (especially parents and community leaders.) They don’t walk in our shoes. If they did, they’d understand why something has to happen. It’s not getting better-it’s getting worse. Something drastic has to change it….now.
Education is not serving its purpose. The purpose of education is to develop the minds of our children and to guide them on the path to serve themselves.
It’s time to loosen the hold education places on our teachers and students.
It’s time to rebuild.
The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life—by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e. conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past—and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort. -Ayn Rand