Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is an education anyway?

So I was sitting down with my boss one day and out of nowhere we began to have a sincerely beautiful, yet challenging conversation about what education looks like today. To be quite honest, I did not say much. I could have listened to his thoughts unravel for days.

Excuse the generalizations... I know there are exceptions out there. Just keep in mind this is the majority of schools today and yes, I do believe creativity is being brought into the classroom in a unique way through some amazing and innovative educators out there... and I plan to highlight a few of those exceptions that I know of.

[The Boss]

"The educational system as a whole is not engaging kids. The way the system treats students is ridiculous. Their mentality says, pack 'em up, send 'em off, and hope the delivery works out somehow.

By doing this, we are fighting against youth culture instead of trying to understand youth culture. The fundamental problem is students gon't get to be part of the process. I mean, what did you think about the system?" he asked. "Did anyone ever ask you what you thought about it?

And we should never point the finger at students for these systematic problems.

Let's take a school that wants to increase graduation rates. Nine times out of ten, during that process, they are lowering their standards so that more kids can graduate. When the graduation numbers go up, it's not always a good thing.

We must ask ourselves, what are our motives? What is the purpose of high school? If it's not preparing you for life after high school, what's the point?

When 100% of your students go to college but only 10% actually graduate from college...hmm... that's not the college's fault. Were they prepared?

I mean, look at standardized tests. It is easy to measure great test takers but extremely hard to measure great thinkers. There's a difference. If you want to measure a great thinker, look at what he or she has contributed to society.. or plans to contribute.

Give them the keys to the car and let them drive. I mean, yes, show them the stop signs and yield signs and all that jazz but give them some control of their own education. Give them ownership of it.

Everyone in the States has been a student at some point, so everyone is an expert. Yet even the most innovative thinkers put school in a box and say, ok bell rings at this time... only five minutes to change class, we'll put the blinding fluorescent lights here, and yes, only white walls..."

SO...

Take away point- Let's invite creativity back into the classroom and give the students more of a say in things, because let's not forget, it is their education. Who knows? They might have some pretty decent ideas. I mean, didn't you when you were a student? =)

I thought I would end this post with a few of some of my favorite schools that I believe truly see education as more than just a classroom and textbook kind of experience....

  • School in the Woods- Colorado Springs, CO. I was fortunate to see this school in action last fall. It was such a rewarding experience for me. Check it out- (http://www.asd20.org/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=11819&)
  • Harpeth Hall- Nashville, TN. I heard a speaker from this school at a panel discussion I attended for work and so I looked it up as soon as I got home. Immediately, I thought of going back to school for a degree in Education just so I could try and work here. (http://www.harpethhall.org)
  • Big Picture School- just started one in Nashville! I have never visited but am highly curious... (http://www.bigpicture.org)
  • Capitol School- Tuscaloosa, Alabama Yes I am from Tuscaloosa, and no, I did not attend this school... except for their day camp one summer when I was six and I pitched a fit because I did not get seconds on chocolate milk.... anyway, I have heard some amazing things and have a great deal of respect for this school. (http://www.thecapitolschoool.com)
  • And on a college level... I am sorry but I have to brag on the Interdisciplinary Studies program I was so fortunate to be a part of at the University of Alabama. Wow. I really cannot speak highly enough about this program. I miss being in the classroom for this very reason... Meet "New College"- Tuscaloosa, Alabama (http://www.as.ua.edu/nc/)- I am on the homepage walking across the bridge!

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