Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's next?

The conference was fun.  Now what?
The world is in big time turmoil.  The media is giving the country a very contentious backdrop.  I am not looking forward to the coming election season.  It feels like no one is playing nice on the big playground.  I keep getting emails asking for money to fuel the fight in Congress, and reading about what seems like necessary budget cuts which do not seem to be long-term focused.

Raise Teachers' Status, International Leaders Urge

Current U.S. actions seen as hampering efforts

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Education leaders from 16 nations that have or aspire to have top-performing education systems gathered here recently to share ideas on improving teaching.
Participants spoke repeatedly of the need to “raise the status of the teaching profession”—a task that is complicated, some said, by moves in several American states to curtail unions’ collective bargaining rights....
I don't think education is something that we can afford not to support.  It's like the foundation on a house.  It's like the walls and the floors, and the windows letting light in. The United States is no longer first in how it educates its children.  Were we ever?  I don't feel like supporting the current way education happens.  Who made it so numbers-oriented?  What happened to all of the wonderful details that are the glue that hold the entire picture together?
An effective education doesn't stop at reading, writing and arithmetic.  Well-educated children are curious and feel they have the right and responsibility to get involved.  They want to take things apart and see how they work.  They want to read books, see movies, draw pictures, interview people, create newsletters, cook interesting recipes, skype with kids from other countries, graph the growth pattern of their tadpoles, and clean up the litter in the park.  Kids who are well-educated will find a cure for cancer and Alzheimers.  They will move past the reliance on oil and inefficient automobiles.  They will make the political process a real process.  They will collaborate with other kids from other countries and stop all of this turmoil.  And, they will make sure music, and art and negotiation skills are right in there with the math.
I've been off-roading it for the past seven years by homeschooling.  It's possible to do all of these things; I just don't see how that can happen in an institutional setting.  It needs to happen, but I don't know how it can.  Without the opportunities to learn the best way they know how to, and some adults who are willing to put on their rose-colored glasses for a short time, the kids never get to develop the love of learning that makes all of the difference.  School becomes something that must be tolerated.
Okay, back to what now?  Can I do something about this?  The United States education system is too big to take on.  If I work with public school teachers training them to to experiential things, they may not be able to because of the constraints of budgets or existing curriculums.  I don't want to be a teacher in the current system.  Maybe I can't do something about this.  Maybe I'm not asking the right question.

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