I'm overdue for a First Post of the School Year. In the three months of carting off to craft shows and replenishing supply between them there was little time for writing cogent blog posts on educational change. The good news is I had a lot of replenishing to do; one of my best seasons selling jewelry in the seven years I've been doing it. But I have been thinking about this stuff almost constantly though...and making plans.
Here are some questions for you:
1. How can we build a movement of change to counter the "education reform" agenda that wants schools to be places where we teach kids what is measurable, and then test them on what was "learned." Almost all the parents I know will say their hope for their kids is that they will learn critical thinking and problem solving skills, innovation, creativity; discover the world around them and their place in it. But are all those skills measurable? Nuh-uh. So why aren't more parents getting angry about what schools are doing?
2. How can we help ordinary people tell truth from nonsense, as a lot of both is thrown around in this mess called the Education Crisis? Most particularly, how can we do it on a low budget, not having the nearly infinite resources of those on one side of the debate?
3. The brain is a lazy organ, say the folks who study this sort of thing. It doesn't learn unless it understands why. But when a kid says, "Why do we have to learn this?" more often than not they are shushed. Some teachers go out of their way to give kids a picture of why the learning they are engaging in is necessary to them. But when the student still doesn't get it, what then? The brain is still in the dark.
But that's how schools function. Learn what I tell you to learn, and it doesn't matter if you want to or not. Why is top-down, traditional education still what we find in classrooms everywhere, when we know it's goes against how learning happens?
4. How do we move the agenda of student-driven education on a local level? With pressures from outside to comply with Common Core Learning Standards, with achievement scores well below that level that NCLB insists must happen by 2014, with funding sinking and districts under pressure to make drastic cuts, what's a school board to do?
If these look a lot like the questions I have been asking all along, you are right. This time, though, I am focused on strategy, and I have a few pathways that I am building -- pathways that will define my own participation in this movement.
My biggest question has been, how can I use both my passion and my skills and talents to help the movement to transform public education?
What is my next, best move?