In my earlier Education Reformation posts, I wrote about the necessity for complete reformation because the current trends in education are only succeeding in creating a downward cycle. True Reformation has to begin with the end goal in mind. What is the end goal? It should be to create life-long learners, effective communicators, and to have a sense of civic and global duty.
Our current American education model is not producing these qualities, at least not on a grand scale. For every student who loves to learn, who communicates effectively, and who desires to give back to the community, there are ten to twenty students who hate learning, who can’t communicate without dropping the F-bomb at least once in every sentence, and who could care less that there are people truly suffering in the world. The education initiatives forced upon school systems over the past twenty years (a modest time frame) are only making things worse. We need to create a new culture in education. The only way to do that is to start over with the end goal in mind.
If business owners (especially the ones who are funding the No Child Left Behind Act), college professors, teachers, parents, and students all agree that children are learning less and less every year, why is education still on this path? Money has to be redirected towards true reformation, the type of reformation that can produce results as seen in other counties (namely Finland). Education may be driven by money, but it can’t be looked at as a capitalist business. Free-public education isn’t free then. We have sold our children to the highest bidder. Children are the investment and the product and the goods. We don’t have a more precious commodity in this country.
What does true reformation look like? I have been writing about the changes our country has to make for the sake of our current and future generations. I started writing about my ideas a few months ago, without any idea if any of them were feasible. I discovered that many of my ideas are already successful in Finland; of course they are slightly different in practice, but it has encouraged me to push for true reformation in this country. Regardless of our political differences, the U.S. can and should look to Finland for how to restructure education in our country. Look for my post on The Finland Phenomenon.
We want students to drive their own learning, be problem solvers, be collaborators, yet we don’t currently have a system that allows for that type of learning to take place. That’s why I introduced my Never-Give-Up Initiative at the elementary level in a previous post. If students only move up after mastery, rather than by age, all students entering secondary education will have the skills necessary to be successful. Horace Mann said that education is the great equalizer; however, the U.S. has attempted to equalize things that can be easily measured, like age and what needs to be taught and comparing students to each other, which doesn’t make them equal. They just become a number on a continuum. The factory model—one size fits all—has to go away.
Reformation at the secondary level has to change as well. If the U.S. changes the primary level, the secondary model I am proposing will be a natural step in helping students become life-long learners, effective communicators, and civic-minded, global citizens. Look for my posts on my proposals for Middle School (School of Discovery) and High School Reformation.
I will also address the necessary changes we have to make as teachers, as well as some of the current problems with teachers (Teachers’ Roles). Although I hate the present trend of teacher bashing, I am not naive enough to think that all teachers are doing the right thing for the right reasons. There are many teachers who need to change dramatically or move on; I hope to encourage that change or make room for the teachers who are truly in education for the right reasons (The Architecture of the Classroom).
I also have a separate post for parents on how to be a support to their children. Parents can be the biggest change agent at their schools. This post will address some of the irresponsible parenting choices that guarantee failure for their children, as well as what parents can do right now to encourage change at their local school level. I hope to encourage parents to become vocal advocates for their children for the right reasons, not the ridiculous ones.
Another issue I will address is the surprising facts about state standardized tests. As an educator I need to tread carefully, but I hope to encourage parents, students, and teachers to make healthy decisions about state tests.
Finally, I want to suggest some actions we can all make right now for this current generation of students. Experiential Learning is the key. How can we transition from our current education system to a reformed system that gives students skills for the real world? How can we help this lost generation get on the right track?
As always, thank you for reading. I appreciate the support I’ve received for my previous posts in Education Reformation, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well as the others in this series.