Perhaps this is naïve, but I am convinced that anyone who enters education does so with good intentions. Whether it’s the grassroots level of teaching or policy-making at the Capitol, you are entering a field of underpay and budget cuts. There’s no way that one trudges thru that with malicious intent. The benefit would not be worth the cost. So how do so many people with good intentions produce such an ineffective result?
The second day of class we watched a Ken Robinson’s video, “Changing Education Paradigms,” that examines the complexity of education as we know it today.
This complex web includes culture, state of economy, language, socioeconomic status, time period, even down to the shifting mindset students have of education now compared to fifty years ago. Robinson opens the video saying, “Every country on earth, at the moment, is reforming public education.” As a public high school graduate from Wake County, NC, I can attest that such reform has not reached us yet. Through our class discussion with the help of Robinson’s video, I have concluded what three major aspects need reform from my own experience.
The first is knowledge. What do we, as a nation, want our eighteen-year-olds to know when they enter the real world? I guess the easiest way to answer this question is to list a few of the things I did not know: how to file my taxes, how to change a tire, the difference between a CC and a BCC in emails, how to properly quit a job, how to establish a credit score, what a preferred gender pronoun was, or even how to manage stress. Now, by no means, am I saying all of these things should be included in curriculum somewhere. I am saying, however, that I would have rather learned a basic or two about mindfulness than know different types of rocks (S/O to 9th grade science). Revamping curriculum to match the needs of millennial graduates is critical not only for the success of the student, but also to the world we enter.
Secondly, nothing happens without funds. A bitter, bitter truth. Are we, as a nation, okay with spending more tax money to support the military than we do children in our public schools? This article, http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go, cites in the graphic that “Defense and international security assistance” receives more than five times that of “Education” (including higher education) from our federal tax money. This is where a lot of controversy surrounds education: at the political level.
Ultimately, and closely related to my first point, what structure will our schools have? Will we continue with standardized testing? What will the school day look like? What qualifications will teachers require? What liberty will students have in terms of creating the education they want to have? What type of penalty for misconduct will we use? Will all these questions be standardized as a nation or individualized based on each school and where it’s located?
Considering all of this, there’s no wonder why I, along with thousands of other students, teachers, and parents, feel frustrated by current educational policy. Good intentions simply aren’t enough to counteract the complexity of what educational reform truly looks like. I remain hopeful that the answer begins, as all things do…with a conversation. Being aware, being informed, and being an active participant of change. And, thus, begins my journey in Politics of Reading. Stay tuned!