Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Education Factory

After the No Child Left Behind legislation in public schools, education became a national debate. I learned a lot about this legislation and the events leading up to it in a couple of my Master's degree courses. Part of the cause is the comparison of student test scores to student test scores from other countries. Of course, we want our kids to score the highest. But why? If we score average, or just below average compared to China in math, or compared to Europe in language arts, how directly does that hurt the lives of our citizens? I am not saying to give up, I am just saying before we fight for something, lets figure out why we should.

On another note, My developing thought is this: When discussing the failures of public education in the U.S. lets look at our history. We have come a long way since the little red schoolhouse haven't we? I think the advances we have made can also be our pitfalls. For instance, every citizen in America is now required to get an education. Whether a child wants to or not, and whether their parents want them to or not, every kid will attend school until they reach 17 years of age. Not just the wealthy, or the educated, every kid. To accommodate our growing population we have public school transportation, public free meals for half our kids, and a huge growth in the profession of teaching. Teachers are required to have a bachelors degree (and now a masters degree) yet our credibility is under scrutiny. Why? Because we produce crap, supposedly. The way I see it, though, the crap is a result of the growth and expansion of education along with the growth of population. We teach hundreds of kids daily. If I tried to have a five minute conversation with each kid that I will see on Monday it would be impossible under the current system. On Monday I will see 102 kids. On Tuesday I will see 56 kids that I did not see the day before. I think the answer lies in the numbers. It is as simple as that. A thorough education will be more individualized, more attention, more conversation, more one on one time for growth. Here is my analogy: Our current education system is a massive factory. Students are pushed through at rapid speed on an assembly line. Teachers dump knowledge on each student as they pass through on the conveyor belt of public education, half of that knowledge spills off and falls to the floor because it is too much too fast, with no time to stop and think. We don't know the students and they don't know us. Teachers work that assembly line and get exhausted. Kids are bored. Overall, what we produce in that factory is CHEAP. Blame the teachers? I don't think so at all. Blame our current public education system? YES. So………when can I set up that little red schoolhouse again? I would love to teach and mentor the same 12 kids every day. Kids that want to be there, feel privileged to get an education, and have time to learn.