Give It Back- photo by Shlomit Wolf

Give It Back

Upon reading Leah K Stewart’s latest post, I began to think about the many voices I represent, no, not  represent,  because I don’t claim to know or often even understand the many stories behind the unsung heroes. Instead, I’m grasping to reach those who understand the struggle. From homeschoolers, to teachers, to parents, and students, we all have our own. But, they bind us together in a myriad of ways.

 

As a kid, all that mattered to me was learning. I was a voracious reader, loved learning about crazy things like the Loch Ness monster and aliens, and hit the library to find out more about topics they never taught in school. I didn’t learn for a test or to get a good score. I learned because it mattered….to me.

 

Maybe you collected baseball cards and memorized the players’ stats, or sat with your child as he pointed out the many evolutions of Pikachu. It was interesting, it is discovery and it is genuine learning. I’m not saying that Pokemon could turn into a future career (who knows), but it was an interest and possibly, a voracious one. Learning for learning’s sake. These seemingly inconsequential moments taught us categorization, vocabulary, science concepts, and discovery. These were our education on the side and translated into classroom learning in ways most people never realize. Discovery always does; but discovery is becoming a rarity.

 

Deep sea diving- photo by Talia Cohen

 

We need to return education to its rightful owners- its learners.  We need to let it go, tear it down, and rebuild it. Education is moving from discovery and experiences towards a more automated system of “learning”. You can no more learn about deep sea diving by studying manuals than you can learn about fractions by merely reading the conclusions of others. Learning needs to be experienced, but autonomy and flexibility are on their way out.

 

As schooling searches for a gold star to solve its crisis, it limits itself. Self-imposed limits. Public education seeks equality, but we are not equal. Egalitarianism is touted as some saving grace in schools, but its result is to bring everyone down; just as socialism points to its squalor and seeks more for all. Remember, socialism reduces its people to ashes first, so it can beg for alms later.

 

There are many infiltrating the schools who make the whole concept of education more difficult. They are the very real, destroyers. They say their goal is an even playing field, but that’s not going to happen. I do not wish to be equal and neither do our students. We all have different needs in the realm of learning and there is no way to even the score. We all want to learn at our own level with our own goals in mind, doing our personal best. They tell us we are the reason education is failing. They work to convince us that we need them to solve our problems when they only complicate matters and make our lives more difficult.

 

We’re losing the learning. We’ve cut out the experience for our students and gone right to the end game all in the name of test scores. Though education highlights STEM (or STEAM) learning, throws photos of speakers at assemblies up on their webpages, and displays artistic talents of its students, take note: these are what the outside world sees. Dig deeper and notice how much is worksheet drivel or regurgitation. It’s quicker and short-term maybe efficient, but most of the time not genuine learning.

 

Some may say I’m bashing public education. I don’t believe in public education; not in its current debilitating and wounded state. It can join the plow horse, typewriter, and morse code as an invention that changed history; until history evolved beyond it. But, don’t get me wrong; I’m not for charter, or private, or religious, or homeschooling. I’m only interested in learning situations that do it right. The ones that put genuine learning above all else.

 

To truly learn, you must experience.

 

To the teachers who continue to encourage the struggle towards genuine learning, I applaud you. YOU are the ones inviting genuine learning. You are the teachers guiding your students TO THINK. There is still hope for genuine learning and you play a greater role than you realize.

 

Teachers and students in the classroom aren’t the only ones sacrificing and sneaking in genuine learning behind the scenes. There’s also the homeschool mom who gives up the comfortable home and new car so that she can try to meet the needs of her child on her own; with no assistance except maybe in the form of a helping hand from a friend or family. Instead of leaving her child’s education up to others, she combs the Facebook homeschool groups searching for answers. Answers that help her child to learn. She’s doing all she can because to her, there is no alternative. As long as she doesn’t succumb to the curriculum trends and instead focuses on her child’s genuine learning, she’s supporting the cause- our future and the future of our children’s minds.

 

There are so many evolving learning alternatives popping up all over the internet. Some created for gifted students, some for learners who need more support, and some allow the flexibility of both. Some offer separate approaches to engagement, and some dismiss grades in order to focus only on the learning. The important thing to remember, is to not let the learning stop because once we submit our minds and the minds of our children to the education cog, we are doomed. We need to stick together, to question practices, and to rally against rules that are contrary to our children’s learning.

 

We are all on the same side of genuine learning; aren’t we?

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Give It Back

  1. I was also a curious learner, as were both of my children as we homeschooled, but so few of the children I teach seem to value learning for the sake of learning, or at least the type of learning that will lead to better life. I don’t agree that striving for equality and serving all kids necessarily leads to bringing down all learners a whole, though I do agree that seems to be the way it goes in many of our schools. But when I see it working – when learners of all ability levels are learning together – that feels right. I think we can problem solve together and reach the goals of genuine learning and including everyone, but it will be a slow and difficult journey and can’t be sidetracked by all this irrelevant “ed reform” we are being pushed into.

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      1. I honestly think it goes back to early learning during the toddler preschool years and whether kids learned to have fun discovering their world and talking about it with others. In which case, only early intervention and family based service will make meaningful change. What do you think?

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      2. I think it’s more about micromanagement in schools. I remember thinking my third graders wanted to learn though by middle school they seemed burned out. In later years, my third graders became burned out. It’s been difficult getting my now fifth grader being homeschooled back interested in learning after being at school (bored to tears) for years. Finally made progress the end of the year.

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      3. Yes I agree that’s also a big piece. And I think the pace of school is just exhausting for kids and teachers too. Too much cramming it all in to enjoy the learning

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      4. And. .. what people don’t understand is that by increasing expectations without decreasing workload and decreasing the pace, teachers are inevitably losing more understanding from students. You can only shove in so much learning at a time.

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