All this angst and these adversarial feelings…no matter what opinion you have, someone doesn’t like it. We are arguing about our children. No matter who you are, whether you have children or not, it is not hard to understand the importance of education for children. They will be the future of our world. Everyone lives in the world. I believe that no matter what your agenda, in your heart you believe it best for children. Even if your opinion is different from mine, I believe you feel it with the same passion as I do.
We need to stop the negativity and make everyone feel good about education. I know there are problems, and I am not happy about some aspects of what is actually happening. There are a lot of people talking about what the right thing to do is, but only some are doing it. It does not mean teachers are bad. What it means is we as a culture have to move forward and need to change the way we do things. We need to change the way we look at things. No defensiveness. Everyone thinks they have the answer, and there are probably several right answers. Let’s just start feeling good about education. You can do this! We will do this!
If we constantly say the schools are bad, the teachers are bad, the tests are bad and on and on, students and parents will believe that. That attitude affects the outcome. Teachers and administrators are all human beings and the way they do things and how they do them, varies. Is everyone who cuts hair the same? Are all doctors to your liking? Teaching style and ability is not always uniform. It is not run by a robot for the same outcome every time. It is a work in progress and we need to continuously move forward.
Feeling good about education and the possibilities for the future does not mean we don’t need change. I still envision the student centered classroom where teachers are facilitating learning and not lecturing facts for students to later repeat back to them. The teacher is asking questions, provoking thought. Integrate technology into the classroom and use it effectively. There are new ways to look at history. Students learn and relate information from the past to their lives. Students learn where and how to find information and evaluate its validity. They reach conclusions after analysis. Students apply knowledge. Teachers put math, science, history and literature into context for the learners of today.
Teachers work hard. They have an important job. As a society we need to value them and treat them with respect. At the same time, we need to know with certainty that all teachers are well-equipped to do their job. We need to train them well, mentor and support them. I think these are things on which we can all agree. As citizens we need to speak up about quality education. Public education is one of the beauties of our form of government. It is a monumental task to equally educate such a diverse population in such a large country. I know our system has not kept up with some other countries, but we can do it.
The old saying is “You can get more bees with honey than vinegar.” I think we are all on the same team here–Team CHILDREN. Perhaps to effect educational reform, we need to tolerate each other, listen and compromise. Happier people are more successful in making change.