Education – Not Just Schooling!
By Edith Morgan
The novel coronavirus has given us the great gift of time – time to think, time to plan, time to do something better.
Before we open our school buildings, let us ask some pertinent questions. Let us put on the table ALL our assumptions about public education: Why do we do what we do? Are those reasons still valid in the 21st century?
🖋Let us create an idealized goal – what kind of human being do we want to graduate after 12 year with us in our schools? If we do not have a clear destination, how will we know when we are there?
📘Are paper and pencil tests really a valid accountability measure for accomplishing our stated goals?
📙Does our curriculum at all levels reflect what we want a full-fledged adult American citizen to know, be able to do, and pass on to descendants?
🌊If we are all going to live to a healthy, productive, nine-decade life, how do we prepare our graduates for their 30-to-40 years of retirement?!
These are some of the more basic questions we should be asking ourselves. Right now, our emphasis is almost entirely on getting our children back into our old school buildings and trying to figure out how to pay for these new groupings.
📚We have not addressed the pressing problem of pre-school education, lack of affordable day care or any kind of affordable child care – and application of all that is known about how children learn, develop, and thrive. While individual teachers try to encourage and enhance individual talents and skills and interests, we pay little attention to these things as systems. We are still wedded to the factory model of education, teaching to the middle, and creating a few special places for all those who are not ”average.”
🌺What if each teacher really knew what the total curriculum goals were and was given no more than 10 students, to be their assigned group, and be responsible for the full development of those 10 students for one school year – or more?
🍃They would not be limited to the school building – but would use the facilities of the entire city – its parks, streets, museums, stores and eateries, etc. The group would be responsible for each other and spend a full day together so that parents would be able to work knowing their young were in good hands all day, developing at their own rate, and not being herded about to the sound of bells.
We should also remember that languages are most easily acquired at early ages, not after puberty, when for most of it becomes more difficult. The early elementary times should be given over to enriching vocabulary, developing good sentence structure and comfort with many forms of expression (prose and poetry). Once children have a good command of the language, there is plenty of time to go over the rudiments of phonics by grade 3. English basic words are generally not phonetic.
Every American child should master more than one language – there are so many ideas and nuances that can not be expressed in one language but exist in another.
And, above all, our young must, from sixth grade on, be able to think critically, analyze propaganda and know when they are being used to become mere consumers. We are now so immersed in advertising everywhere we look that we no longer even question the right
of moneymaking to occupy every inch of space around us!
By the time we graduate seniors from our high schools, we should expect that they can navigate various forms/applications, and the tiny print designed to mislead that is found in contracts, credit card statements, etc. Years ago there was a test, the SHARP test (senior high assessment of reading proficiency) which simply tested whether students could use and understand the most common forms they would encounter in adult life: Tax forms, W-2, driver’s license, credit card monthly reports, bank forms or whatever is current now. Too many of our high school graduates are constantly taken advantage of because of their lack of education in these areas. And as part of any civics curriculum, senior high students should have a thorough understanding of how various economic systems work and how they affect our students’ lives and futures.
Let’s start questioning – NOW!!