A discussion about education and education reform can run the gamut of ideas. Let’s create more accountability so we know that students can do what we want them to know and be able to do. Teach what’s on the test. Memorize it and if you can’t we will teach you test taking strategies. You never really have to think for yourself. Test, test and re-test. Surely this will motivate, won’t it?
There are lots of people discussing what is the key to success, or what will be the key to success. You need to foster the right-brainers–they hold the key to innovation with their creativity. Those who have memorized to perform well on standardized tests–now that is the indicator of success, or at least of the successful performance on that test at that time. Memorize that vocabulary, not how to use it. Memorize historical occurrences, not their significance and implication for the future. Understand those chemical formulas, and remember them, but don’t try to apply them to discover something new. Math…memorize again but let’s not study or explore what you do with math. Just do it.
Do tests give problems to solve that the student may not have memorized the answers? Are students given the opportunity to explore, discover and apply the facts they learned?
Daily, I investigate what makes a better education. I ponder and question with a determined passion. What do students need to know and be able to do? What are the keys to excellent education? No one would deny that one of the answers to this question is first-rate instruction, and I agree with that. There is no substitute for excellent teaching. So then, is the discussion about what comprises excellent instruction? How do we make outstanding teachers? Is it educational strategies? Understanding how people learn? Offering differentiation? Being a facilitator of discovery and knowledge?
You can be smart. You can be talented. If no one discovers these abilities, there is no opportunity. Where does opportunity come from? Does the student have to have internal motivation? Can teachers draw out talents from students and motivate them? Is this job for the parents? Teachers? Other mentors? Does the desire to succeed come from learned example? Is motivation a personality trait? What is the role of hard work and grit? How do we teach students to take risks and embrace failure?
BOTTOM LINE: What creates success? How does one define success? What should we as a community in the United States be doing to give our children a fair chance for opportunity, growth and to be exemplary citizens? Is education the ticket out?
I believe in public education. I believe in education for all. I don’t think we need to agree on exactly what this is for each, but collaborate together to make it work for all. Education is one of the solutions to poverty. It requires community and government support. The key factor that connects all the components is to create opportunity. What it takes to do that may look a little different in each community. Explore those possibilities and create that OPPORTUNITY.