A failure of imagination

As a teacher and a mom, education is one of my primary concerns. So the recent scores released by PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) were disheartening to me. I’m not terribly surprised. I’ve been watching the American school system become bogged down with bad ideas, from extending the school day, to piling on meaningless homework, to eliminating anything creative in the curriculum, and let’s not forget the massive failure of innovation and sense that is the No Child Left Behind act.

Bloomberg article quoted that one of the advantages that better-performing countries had over the U.S. was that schools had more autonomy over their curriculum. It flies in the face of a national curriculum, which makes sense. It’s kind of like the government controlling how you run your own family. You’re better equipped to say what your family needs or doesn’t need, and schools should have the same advantage.

In my daughter’s school, the length of the day has been steadily increasing, as some subjects have become more disposable (Art, Spanish, Music) and still the scores have not been going up. What’s the answer to that? Increase the day some more. It’s like saying: Hey! This brand of manure hasn’t been growing my sunflowers. Know what I’m gonna do? Add more manure!

It’s a failure of imagination. No one has been able to come up with a decent idea to deal with the problem. And it’s also an indication of why the U.S. is behind in Science scores, because anyone with any kind of scientific training would know that when your hypothesis fails, you don’t keep adding minutes to the experiment. You begin again with a new idea.

I’ll be the first to admit that I thought a national curriculum was a good idea. I thought having across the board standards would eliminate the nonsense that is wealthy schools getting all the resources while inner-city schools get left in the dust. But clearly, the best thing is not a national curriculum, but distributing the education dollars appropriately. I also thought that smaller classes would be better, but that’s also proving to be wrong. Larger class sizes mean that teachers can be paid more, and higher-paid teachers is reportedly one of the reasons China’s educational system is number one.

So now that we have new information, let’s re-conceptualize our ideas about education. Longer days (more manure) isn’t cutting it. But a longer school year might help U.S. students catch up to everyone else.

Eliminating language classes in favor of other core subjects hasn’t helped. And what is the sense of eliminating languages when we know that the economy is now global? Speaking only one language is a huge disadvantage.

Innovation used to be a source of pride for the United States. Kitty Hawk, the Space Race. Think that can happen now that we’ve eliminated creative subjects like art from the curriculum and science is learned from a textbook rather than by having students theorize and experiment?

Giving schools the ability to control their own curriculum is going to be huge. Thematic learning where the math, science, social studies, reading, art, music, and language subjects were all about one thing works because each subject feeds on the others. The average person needs to hear something eight times before they remember it. So by integrating all the subjects, we’d maximize the ability of the students to master the material. Right now, with a different textbook for everything, it’s all disjointed. A longer day of scattershot learning is a giant waste of time and resources.

Now is the time to listen to people who actually know what they’re talking about, like Ken Robinson who describes how schools are killing creativity, or like Muhammad Yunus who prove that even old institutions and centuries-long ways of thinking can be successfully revamped. For Pete’s sake, let’s listen to a kid talk about what they need to grow.

What we’re doing clearly isn’t working. And I’m worried about the future of my children, and the future of all of us, if we’re led by dunces. Haven’t we had enough of that?

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129 thoughts on “A failure of imagination

  1. Mikalee Byerman says:

    Wow … I couldn’t agree more.

    My son is the academically gifted program, yet his 6th grade teacher advised him not to go the program today because it’s “school-wide pajama party” day.

    There is a fundamental failure happening: creativity is being quashed and mediocrity encouraged. There needs to be DRASTIC change to education. And soon.

  2. Dr. Kwame M. Brown says:

    Interesting post. I find your omission of physical play a little disconcerting. The value of physical play has been proven in it’s ability to increase attention span, reduce symptomatic sequelae of ADAH, increase the robustness of sentence structure, and overall academic performance.

    Furthermore, I do agree that education should not be so tightly regulated nationally, but we DO need national standards for teacher education, apprenticeship, and continuing education. This also includes funding for all of the above.

    This blanket statement that “You’re better equipped to say what your family needs or doesn’t need, and schools should have the same advantage” sounds really nice on it’s face. But there are families that beat their children, and districts that are completely unaware of seminal, useful research in the fields of child development and education. So, while I agree with the value of autonomy, we at least have to make resources available to folks in such a way that “best practices” identified by the field are put into place. So, I think you need to refine your autonomy position a little bit.

    I think you are also correct that the extended school day is a red herring without true reform, and the inclusion of a multidisciplinary, integrated curriculum. The extended school day might work if there were more pockets of recess and physical play throughout the day – and we would help to solve the youth inactivity problem as well.

    With regard to creativity – YES! This is a huge issue, and possibly one of the largest. We have a country that is supposedly built on ingenuity, yet we allow very little in the majority of classrooms. To increase creativity, we must institute play! It is playfulness that produces creativity, and it’s necessary cousin, resilience. Please feel free to contact me at http://drkwamebrown.wordpress.com or Twitter @drkmbrown to discuss further.

  3. bigsheepcommunications says:

    I agree with you a bazillion percent. I think another big factor in our failing education system is low expectations in terms of both academics and behavior. It seems we’ve spent decades dumbing down the curriculum, instead of fueling kids’ natural passion for learning. Children will rise to the challenge of a demanding curriculum, but they need great teachers (and involved parents) to do it.

  4. Victoria says:

    The education system has gotten so horrific here in FL that in my senior semester, I’ve decided not to become a teacher. I used to think I could make something come of even a crappy system, but once our new governor steps in and slashes property taxes (where “government” funds a school) by 19% and decides to penalize teachers for their students’ sorry test grades, I got the picture. Public education is going to be done away with. At first I was resistant, but part of me isn’t so resistant anymore. Charter schools are schools of choice (and also other things which happen to be very negative) but they are a reflection of what people in their communities want. So, I hope we can move in that direction and that it’s a healthy switch. Once the government no longer has control over education, maybe our children stand a chance at actually receiving and education. I was totally against this not very long ago. But I see no other option. Standardized testing? You can’t fatten a pig by weighing it.

  5. notesfromrumbleycottage says:

    This could be seen as a jab at Bush’s failed No Child Left Behind. The problem is that was a piece of legislation with no teeth. What actually happened to schools put on the watch list? Our high school was there and nothing ever happened to the school. In the current climate of decreasing budgets, what will it take to improve our nation’s educational system?

  6. Marni says:

    As a parent of four home-educated kids (who are now back in school as a result of my having to return to work) I am with you (and Ken Robinson) all the way!
    After a couple of years of floundering as home “schoolers” we eventually dropped most of the curriculum we been offered and began to learn on our own. Putting faith in our children’s desire to learn, we found that they grasped and retained lessons when their efforts came more naturally and the outcomes purpose-driven. Intigrating subjects allowed our kids to see that there was a reason for their efforts; for instance, they didn’t just repeat math exercises umpteen times (you know, on an uninspiring worksheet) till they “got it”, they learned to perform a task that would give them insight into something bigger.
    Children are not separate beings from ourselves, like anyone of any age, they perform better when they are motivated. If our children are not successful it’s not the teachers who are at fault (the teachers I’ve encountered since my kids have returned to school have been creative geniuses (!) who are working miracles with the material they’ve been handed as their curriculum). No amount of extra time is going to make it easier to stuff knowledge into these kids, school boards really need to take an updated look at what motivates people and how children learn.

  7. SAS Fiction Girl says:

    When my mother returned to teaching elementary school in 1990, she discovered a vastly different world of education from the one she left behind in the 1960s. Teachers at her Virginia elementary public school were required to plan in detail everything that would take place in the classroom every minute of the day. This allowed for no deviation, no spending more time on subjects than originally planned, no creativity. The teachers were made to list the questions they would ask of the students, along with the students’ expected responses. God help the teacher whose students answered differently than planned while an administrator was observing. In other words, teachers were expected to be psychic. Simple, right? After filling in half a year for a teacher on leave, then running her own classroom for a year, my mother called it quits. It wasn’t too hard to give up the job: after knuckling under to unreasonable administration demands, dealing with a violent schizophrenic student, and enduring classroom interruptions from students’ otherwise absentee parents, she was offered a paltry $18,000 to stay on the job. I’m sure it was never so easy to walk away.
    There is no doubt our education system places emphasis in the wrong areas. -Jen
    http://sasfiction.wordpress.com

  8. Dr. Kwame M. Brown says:

    @Marni:

    So what if the home schooling parents don’t have the education or skills themselves? Don’t we perpetuate more problems that way?

    The problem with the idea of privatizing education or bringing it into the home is that it does not work en masse. These are nice additions to the arena, but certainly not panacea solutions.

    With private schooling – there is the question of re segregation along religious and ethnic lines – damaging to society. With home schooling, again, there is the issue of parent skill / educational level. Are you saying that teachers are useless?

  9. Autism & Oughtisms says:

    I agree with the sentiment that “simply doing more of what’s not working, won’t make it work”. Longer school days and more homework are indeed poor ideas, but I don’t think more school days in a year, or more arts and language teaching gets you past your own criticism; that just doing more of what’s not working is going to make things better. In fact that looks like just another version of the “failed imagination” you speak of.

    I do though agree with allowing schools more control and flexibility with the cirriculum, so they can respond to the interests of the students and their parents, and be freed from government bureaucracy; allowing them to focus their time and resources on the job of educating. And I strongly agree with making education “real” – such as making science and maths a hands-on learning experience.

    Despite all the agrees and disagree, it’s great to have dialogue about what’s working and what’s not, and why. It’s great that you’ve got people thinking and talking about this 🙂

  10. acleansurface says:

    As a former school employee and current part time “yard duty” I have many gripes about the public school system.
    A homeschooling advocate — I believe it was John Taylor Gatto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Underground_History_of_American_Education)
    — has used the phrase ‘infantilization of children’ in regard to public schooling.
    As a lunchtime supervisor, I find the term infantilization to be pretty accurate…during lunch, 5th graders must raise their hand and get permission to use the bathroom, get a drink of water, put their things away or even throw away their lunch trash. Can a ten year old child not be trusted to walk to a drinking fountain and back?
    How can we encourage autonomy and creativity this way?

  11. wahyono saputro says:

    in Indonesia-according to me-education is a big responsibility with a low salary(only $200/month), could you imagine it? In many cases we have same problems with other nations, how to build our education system better?But it’s a challenge how so far (till where) our maximum capacity can shows usefull thing for our childrens n local&central government.Do the best for your nation!

  12. D.A. says:

    To add onto wayhono’s comment above, most graduate students who are teaching giant classes of undergrads (200-500 kids in each) are making $400 per month. Food for thought.

    Also, great post. Agreed wholeheartedly. Congrats on being freshly pressed! I’m bookmarking you simply because I knit and the pencil idea makes me giddy 🙂

  13. mistressofpoetry says:

    I am completely with you on this. I have noticed problems such as the decreased ability to produce students who are anything close to being able to spell or write properly, partly in fact (as I seem to recall, the time frames coincide) due to a push towards phonics, with a reduction in stress towards actual spelling and grammar in writing. Students are given high grades simply for completing an assignment, regardless of how well or badly they did in the actual content of the assignment. I have also noticed through correspondence with people from other countries that, in Europe and other countries, language is encouraged, and even pushed. Most graduates from schools in these countries know, on average, 2 to 4 languages, and are nearly fluent in at least one language aside from their mother tongue (most of their youth now speak English to some degree). Why oh why aren’t language courses even being offered in our schools when we are now a global economy. It is a proven fact that those children who learn other languages and are encouraged through art and music are much more able to learn other subjects. These subjects open up areas of the brain that enable higher thinking. So my question is: why, oh why, are schools, and America in general, discouraging of foreign language, art, and music?

  14. Hifiduino says:

    Good post. There is some merit in lengthening the day. In some countries, kids live in school (no internet, no TV) and go home on the weekends only. But as a space buff, sputnik was Russian 🙂

  15. harkheindzel says:

    I really agree. Things are degrading obviously. Something needs to be done. And “let those who know what they are doing” stand up and do something about it.

  16. wadingacross says:

    No Child Left Behind* is a failure as has been pretty much everything that the government has done over the last century+. You can largely (not completely) place the failures of our public educational system in the lap of the progressives and new liberals (as compared to classic liberals which were actually comparible to today’s libertarians). Give thanks to John Dewey and so many other turn of the century educational “reformers” and intellectuals who began the process of turning our educational system on its head. And yet, as our educational system continued(s) to slide ever down, our government thinks more centralization, more regulation, more standards and more money are the answers.

    I graduated from public school and my wife from private. I have a degree in secondary education and my wife works with special needs children in a public school. The only way to truly reform the system is to completely restructure it. The way things currently are economically and politically, it’ll never happen thru politics and bureacracy. People are going to have to leave the system first.

    My wife and I have zero faith in public education and zero desire to place our children in the schools. Our intent is to homeschool our children. Our eldest shows every sign of giftedness. Next year he’d go to kindergarten. He’d be bored to tears, and frankly there’s no gifted program that would truly cater to him. He’s not mature enough yet. He can read at a third grade level, but he’s still very much a four year old boy.

    Another part of the problem also falls into the laps of the modern progressive/leftist movement and it plays out daily in our society and culture as a whole; the disentegration of the nuclear family and the sundry social changes that’ve swept thru this nation over the last several decades faster than we’re able to understand, deal or cope with them. Technology and money aren’t the answer. Interesting courses aren’t the answer. The answer lies in going back to the late 1800’s and seeing how things were done there – as well as taking a critical look at the culture and educational practices in those nations that are succeeding educationally.

    Our current crop of school aged children would largely balk and revolt at these necessary changes because they’ve become so selfish, disrespectful an deluded.

    While chaos is not a good thing, nor is collapse, it’s probable that it’ll be the only thing to truly help our educational system. That said, individuals like Soros or Van Jones who’re trying to collapse our system have another system waiting to replace it… and it will be worse.

    * GWBush actually has quite a few socialistic/liberal positions. Education was one of them.

  17. lifeintheboomerlane says:

    Great post. We can, as a people, make as much noise as we want to about how much we care about our children or our schools. But until we are willing to vote for legislators who are committed, and until we are willing to financially support programs that work, and until we are willing to let teachers go who shouldn’t be teaching, the schools will continue to go downhill. Michelle Rhee lost her job as head of the DC schools because she refused to “make nice” and she had the temerity to fire incompetant teachers. The next week, she was lauded on Oprah for being an amazing educator. That says it all.

  18. Marni says:

    @Dr. Brown:
    Some parents will choose to homeschool no matter what sort of public or private education is offered, and that should be their right. I cited one method used by home educators as an example, in support of the integration of subjects, and not to promote homeschooling en masse.
    I’m not sure you actually reached the bottom of my comment, or perhaps my message was unclear, as I was not suggesting that teachers are useless, in fact, quite the opposite.
    I heartily agree with your original comments regarding creativity and play, which was what I suspect the author of this blog had in mind when she titled her post “A failure of imagination”.
    http://marnimum.wordpress.com/

  19. Tracey says:

    Hi guys, I’ve been out and not monitoring the discussion on this post, but I will read now and respond.

    My great thanks to all of you for joining in on the discussion.

  20. Simone Benedict says:

    I agree! I’m not a teacher but as a parent I see the issues in your post. If everyone would really take a united stand for the education of our kids, I think we could make a difference.

  21. dlfields says:

    When the subject of year-round school is mentioned in our area, people react like you’re suggesting sacrificing babies at midnight under a harvest moon. The problem with people is they think the way it’s always been is the way it always should be. Maybe people need to be shown on a calendar how many days the kid gets off school.
    As for a lack of imagination–Right On! My daughter is so freaking bored of third grade science, so little time is used for hands-on learning. Maybe a smaller class size (and schools with more classrooms) is the answer. Kids would get more one-on-one time with the teacher and the teacher would have time to teach, instead of just herding the kids from one subject to the next.

  22. Tracey says:

    Again, my thanks to all of you for adding to the discussion.

    @Dr. Brown. You’re right. I did forget to include physical play and it is very important.
    And while some families are abusive, the overwhelming majority of parents know their kids’ needs and their potential better than anyone else, hence the comparison that individual schools will be better able to gauge academic need than a national program.
    Also, I do think that Marni was in support of teachers and found that the ones her kids returned to were doing wonders with what they had available to them.

    @bigsheepcommunications @Mikalee Byerman: Academic challenge is certainly lacking in the school system. Textbooks are increasingly dumbed down. It’s obviously not working. The question is, what’s to be done about it?

    @Victoria: I’m sorry that education is losing people because of politics. It’s why I left teaching, and I know many great teachers who left recently because of politics and budget cuts in my area. It’s the kids who suffer. I’m not sure when politicians are going to realize that.

    Regarding homeschooling:
    @totallytawn: I wish I could homeschool as well, but when would I write any books?
    @Marni: Kudos for trying to homeschool and realizing that sometimes you have to deviate from the assigned material and go with what your kids are interested in
    @Dr. Brown: yes, there is the issue of parent education when you think about the homeschooling option, but I’d argue that most parents who take on the challenge of homeschooling are parents who really care about how their kids are performing academically, so they will most likely make sure they do a damn good job at it. I accept that there will be exceptions to that, but we can’t cover everything.

    @notesfromrubleycottage: Unfortunately, decreasing budgets is just what schools DON’T need. And in an economic downturn like this, it’s going to take really clever thinking to turn schools around while still managing the deficit.

  23. Lee says:

    As a former teacher, I totally agree that what’s being done is not working. I worked in an urban school district. In that situation, the main issues were students with behavior/emotional issues, lack of parental support, and a poor administration. So, various school districts have different needs. The “fix” cannot be a “one size fits all solution.” Also, those who have never taught should not be voting on or making educational mandates. Educators need to govern their own profession.

  24. Tracey says:

    @lifeintheboomerlane: Michelle Rhee is an excellent example of politics getting in the way of education.

    @dlfields: we’re also dealing with a 3rd grader who’s completely bored in class. I also thought that smaller class size was the answer, but it seems that larger class size has been working in the countries with better-performing students. Partly it’s because with larger class size, schools can pay the teachers who are doing a better job more money.

    @Lee: I totally agree that educators should govern education. And as others have said on this post, parents also need to be more proactive about participating in school board decisions. I know that I certainly need to step up more and advocate for what I think is right for my kids.

  25. benirleciel says:

    Sorry to barge in. I just got here from the main page at wordpress.com. However I love me some education discussion, and I was loving this until:

    “Innovation used to be a source of pride for the United States. Kitty Hawk, Sputnik. Think that can happen now that we’ve eliminated creative subjects like art from the curriculum and science is learned from a textbook rather than by having students theorize and experiment?”

    Dear God in Heaven. Please, please tell me you teach not poli-sci, nor any natural or hard science, nor geography, nor history.

    Sputnik was Soviet! They put the first satellite in space with their–

    wait for it–

    National curriculum and national space program. 😀

    The worst part is, it’s such a Russian word, I’m not buying “slip of the tongue”. Peacenik, apparatchik, Sputnik.

    This is just too ironic. Please, for all of our peace of mind, edit that, and then consider a special personal unit on the history of technology and where American innovation really comes from (generally, exiles).

  26. Tracey says:

    @benirleceil: my apologies for being unclear. I wasn’t suggesting that Sputnik was American, but that the launch of Sputnik precipitated American innovation that led to the Space Race. Thanks for pointing that out, and I’ll go back and edit it.

  27. PeacockWings says:

    I have to agree with you here. They are taking the art, music.. “Creative” classes and throwing in more math and science corses. While that may be great for the math genius-some really don’t like this. I had to take calculus I and II just to graduate from my school with honors. I had to be there at 7:30 am and stayed there till 5 everyday!

    The school system here needs a serious lookover.

  28. Tracey says:

    @wadingacross: I’m not sure how going back to the educational system of the 1800s would work. Perhaps I misunderstand you? And you’ll have to explain what the system is that Soros and Van Jones have that’s going to be worse.
    I do support your decision to homeschool. While that’s not for me, I recognize that many parents feel that is the best option for their kids. Good for you.

  29. Shanna VanNorman says:

    Eliminating language classes and debilitating creativity in general are two of many reasons I’m considering home-schooling. While my daughter is only 6 months, I find it necessary to start educating myself now so I’m equipped to teach her throughout school. I find it baffling with the amount of resources Americans have at their disposal that our government is actually choosing to eliminate the very subjects that increase the performance of all other subjects, i.e., music.

    Children are better equipped to handle life’s lessons as well as math and since with the accompaniment of music. And you’re absolutely right, it’s not just music, schools are eliminating language among other creative teachings. What does this say about our country?

    What does this say about our values? Do we not value other cultures and deem necessary to learn other forms of communication other than our own? Does this mean we’re superior to other cultures?

    “Speaking one language is a huge disadvantage.” – I could not agree more.

    Thanks for the enlightenment, it’s nice to see people as passionate about I in regard to creativity and limiting our acceptance of mediocrity.

    Best and congrats,

    Shanna

  30. managermamma says:

    I studied in America and when I returned to Italy, I was horrified with the education system, and found it very hard to adjust. Many reforms are needed, especially in the South of Italy, where many schools don’t even have computers. One good thing is that in the last few years is that the study of the English language has been made obligatory from elementary school. thank you for the update about the American school system. I studied there in the 60s, so I see that many things have changed since then.

  31. benirleciel says:

    My only problem with homeschooling is that it’s not an option for everybody.

    And I don’t mean, because we can’t stay home with our kids. I can think of a dozen ways to make it work.

    I mean because some children really need to be with other kids and other adults all day long. They are extroverts and their personalities are just too much for a single parent to take on all day. I used to plan on home-schooling my own child, and I even dreamed of it. I have four (four!) home-schooling books on my shelf.

    I also have a little girl who’s been in pre-school since she was 2.5. And who has loved every second of it, and who begs to go on week-ends.

    It’s great that children who do well being taught by one teacher, with one style, in a two or three or four-person environment, have the option of home-schooling.

    But what about kids that do not thrive in that environment? What about parents that just cannot handle that? (Wait until your child is 3.5 and you’ll know what I mean, LOL!) Schools were invented for a reason. It makes sense, for many kids and families, to delegate responsibilities and specialize.

    I am all for home-schooling, but I think suggesting it as an educational solution is not helpful. It’s only helpful for exceptional families that have the right dynamics to make it work, which is fine, but that’s not an answer to this problem.

  32. jordoncloud says:

    The system is also breeding generations of children who absolutely hate school. I admit that I ditched high school way more than my parents will ever know but I got really good grades. We spent hours doing pointless activities that I learned nothing from and I found that I could keep up even when I ditched class more than I attended.

    The point is, reading and writing excessively every day will not make children want to keep learning. Children engaged with creating and innovating when they’re young will be the ones that come up with the bright ideas to improve the world!

  33. Marni says:

    I keep popping back to see the discussion and I’m having to clasp a hand to my mouth (or tie my hands, I guess) to keep from speaking up in defense of homeschooling….because this post is not about homeschooling and no one has actually suggested homeschooling as a solution to the problem!

    I think home educators are drawn to this topic because it’s the reason most of us choose home education (which, OMG here I go, doesn’t mean the children stay at home all day everyday with mom).

    In our effort to identify the real problem in schools and to move toward a workable solution, ALL of our voices should be heard. But listen, really listen….

  34. Tracey says:

    @jordoncloud: I agree wholeheartedly. My daughter might be in the same situation as you were in H.S.

    @ Marni: I don’t think you have to defend homeschooling. It’s an excellent option, but it’s not for everyone.

  35. Sister Earth Organics says:

    @ Dr Brown: Not sure how private schools are “damaging to society” when the graduates of religious based and gender based schools score higher and go on to a higher level of learning than compared to those in public schools.

    Private schools also are able to successfully teach a student at significantly lower costs than public – proving that money has little to do with the quality of education.

    Where I live the public middle and high schools have gone to a block schedule, meaning 4 classes 1 1/2 hour each and 2 semesters. This allows more concentration in each class, gives the teachers more time to teach, and structures homework. (unfortunately it does not limit the amount of disruptive students that limit class teaching time)
    The test scores in the region have been steadily rising since the change, but obviously this complex a problem requires more than just one simple answer.

    Thanks for enabling this interesting exchange of ideas!

  36. atomsforgreen says:

    Single biggest issue: Teachers Unions
    They prioritize job security over educational achievement (isn’t the purpose of a union to protect the interests of the unionized over others?).

    I remember switching from private to public school. The teachers in my public school were MUCH less engaged in filling our brains and sparking us to think independently/creatively. There were also a LOT less interesting programs make us express ourselves. You could really feel the 9 – 5, daily-grind, get-it-over-with mentality at the public school.

    Pay for performance. It’s called capitalism. That’s how the U.S. got to #1 in GDP.

    Check out this CNN clip. Michelle Rhee is the education genius we need to shake some sense and creativity into our broken system: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/12/15/ps.rhee.education.crisis.cnn?iref=allsearch

  37. kloppenmum says:

    Couldn’t agree more…except more play would be helpful too. (That’s if we actually want emotional intelligent children.) No wonder people are looking to Steiner, Montessori and Home Schooling!

  38. Imane says:

    “Eliminating language classes in favor of other core subjects hasn’t helped. And what is the sense of eliminating languages when we know that the economy is now global? Speaking only one language is a huge disadvantage.”
    So true! Here in the Netherlands most people speak 3 languages, and it’s so helpfull in modern day society. The fact is businesses aren’t just expanding nationally, but also internationally and if you want to play along you’ll need to communicate in more languages than one.

  39. thesyncingship says:

    i don’t think its a lack of creativity, i think its a lack of curiosity. the students (i, a sad one of them) honestly don’t care about the material, only the grade we receive on it. if we TRULY wanted to learn what we’re “learning” now then we would already know enough to pass any test.

    take away that grades, and we might just care about school.

  40. mybakingempire says:

    I do think the school systems have been going about changes in the wrong way, but also agree that kids these days are just not interested in learning. Not that I was super stoked about many of the classes I took growing up, but I think focuses have shifted since then, and there’s increased pressure on kids these days with tons of extracurriculers as well as with the advent of social media.
    I also agree with the comment above that more people are concerned with the grade at the end of the class rather than learning the material.
    The best teachers I had were the ones who made learning the material fun – while still teaching. There are things I remember from 7th grade science because of an analogy my teacher made that was so funny and memorable – and it has still stuck with me.
    It’s like how some traditions have gone by the wayside in religion – it’s not that they’re not important, it’s just they were created at a time where they had more relevance. Schools have to update their methods to keep up with an updated society. The same old thing isn’t going to work any longer.

  41. SAsammygirl says:

    There probably will never be a correct way to educate every single child, because we’re all different, so it is plain we all would learn in different ways. It would be so much easier if we could identify exactly how a child would learn best and then base their cirriculum off that. I’ve been in public school all my life, and I don’t think its a question of how much the teacher gets paid, but rather how much that teacher actually cares about educating their classes. Of course paying them more does increase the chances that they would care a whole lot more.

    I can say with confidence that disruptive students do hurt the classes ability to function and stay on task, there were a couple of boys in my math class that just wouldn’t stop playing the class clowns and we hardly ever got anything done because the teacher always had to quiet them down. I’m not sure if I actually am… But friends and family always told me I was relatively smart (I know, I know they tend to be biased. That’s why I’ve always doubted my intellectual capacity). And I always get grouped in with the delinquents because of right-brainedness, I’m trying to learn while they’re worried about when class is letting out and if it’s snowing outside.

  42. SAsammygirl says:

    It also burns a little piece of my humanity inside that some schools don’t think art and music are important. Both such things fuel creativity, which also fuels inventive ideas in science, how was the lightbulb invented? Through hard work, creativity, and imagination.

  43. vmstratton says:

    Risking repeating what someone else has said (I haven’t read all of the comments on here . . . there are a lot!) . . .

    It could be argued that the way the US has leaned towards focusing on “core” subjects and away from more “creative” subjects sets a paradigm in a child’s mind of what makes them “smart” and “dumb.” I’ve fallen victim to this way of thinking . . . I used to think that those who decided to go to art school or similar places were “dumb” because they couldn’t handle the rigor of science or math.

    This is totally false. There are many different ways to be intelligent. With the way the control of the US curriculum seems to be going, we are not teaching kids to embrace all kinds of intelligence. There can be structured intelligence, and creative intelligence. You can have one or the other, but probably more often a mix of both. I could be considered “dumb” because I can’t draw anything beyond a stick figure. 🙂

    But my point is, by snuffing out creative intelligence, it can be disheartening to those kids that have a true talent for the arts. It makes school, to put it bluntly, a pretty sucky place to be.

    We need to think it’s ok if someone wants to study the arts and not focus on more of the cliche school subjects. If we can cultivate their true gifts, kids will probably exude more self-confidence and realize more self-efficacy and will, in the end, have a more positive impact on the world around them. Let me note that I’m not putting down those that do want to take the more “sciencey” path. If that’s what you’re good at, do it. But you should be viewed equally with the aspiring musician or sculptor or dancer or actor.

    I tried to be careful with my word choice, because I don’t have any recent experience with the public school system (I’m a recent college grad). Just my take of it.

  44. rtcrita says:

    I’m so glad my daughter is in college now and my son will be starting in the fall after he graduates from high school in May. School and all those issues can wear you down as a parent. I’m sure many teachers feel the same.

    One thing I always knew once my children started school was that I could not totally rely on the school to do all the work of educating my child, for various reasons. Teachers teach to the masses in one mind set because they would never get everything done on their daily list if they had to stop and teach every child in the style that was appropriate and best for every individual. I am not saying this in defense of teachers in any way. It just seems to be a fact. A fact that leaves many kids out if they aren’t able to learn as well as they should by any particular teachers style of teaching. Every year, I had to deal with a different way of teaching that most often did not suit either of my children, but my son especially.

    So, I took every opportunity I could to “teach” my children what I could when I was with them. And I provided them with all kinds of stimuli: books, walks in nature, science toys, discovery channel, creative play time, lots of art supplies (I buy them some kind of artistic gift or supplies for Christmas every year and have since they were old enough to hold a crayon!), music players with MY choice of CD’s thrown in with what they liked, played music on the radio that they might not normally listen to when they were a trapped audience in the car with me (like 0pera or classical), let them watch movies that I thought might have a good teaching lesson involved even though it might not be rated age appropriate because I knew they could discuss the theme with me like mature little people, and all kinds of other experiences.

    I’ve also had discussions with my kids as they got older, high school age, that they have to “demand” to be taught by a teacher. By that, I mean to say that they must pull out of the teacher the knowledge that the teacher has been paid to give to my child. How? By participating in class, by asking questions, by asking for further explanation if they don’t understand something, by doing their part and read the assignments, do the work, hand it in on time, etc. It’s a two-way street. But I also know there are some great teachers out there, and some really rotten ones. And when they’ve gotten a rotten one, I know it’s been “hell-year” for us all.

    I don’t know what the answer is, and I worry for my future grandchildren I will have someday. Both my kids have done well in school. And I’ve been a single mom for almost 9 years now with almost no financial help from their father, and certainly no emotional or physical help either. Both were in gifted. (I use to hate that word because I think all kids are gifted.) My daughter got to college on an academic scholarship and my son will probably be doing the same as a result of his high ACT scores. It’s been a tough, hard road but we all three worked hard to get here, despite the craziness that they sometimes come up against in the school system. And that’s ANY school system. They’ve been in public school, private school, Christian school, inner-city (public) school, and back in public school. We’ve tried them all! Academic-wise, I would have to say the private school challenged them the best. Socially-speaking, I would say the public schools they went to did the best (more diversity). Although, both of their high schools have done a great job, certainly better than I expected. The Christian school? Well, let’s just say that was “an experience-and-a-half!”

  45. djt says:

    Whoa. I like this post quite a lot. As a student who left a Florida(One of the worst) high school two years ago, and is now in a University, I think there are some truths you might not know as someone who isn’t a student.

    1. Standardized testing takes away from many teacher’s sense of freedom. When FCAT was instated, entire years were taught around it. In fact everything became FCAT themed. There was an FCAT week, a school FCAT goal, everyday FCAT skill practice, FCAT work books, FCAT skits on the morning announcements. This idea of a school grade is not only warping teacher’s goals (and in effect students’ learning) it is taking identity away from schools (by pulling the m away from their real problems), stressing students (by stressing everything on one test/school grade/standard), and it is not helping the schools who can’t reach the national standard. What we need are personal reviews. Inspections. Every school is certainly not equal, but they all have problems. A personal inspection (with perhaps a less stressed national standard level) would guarantee both a standard was being kept, and that the schools individual problems were being addressed.

    2. Imagination: I went to an arts school in high school. All majors were a kind of art form. From my experience (which was mostly great), there is no lack of imagination in my generation. And I doubt there is a lack of imagination in all these other kids, too. What I do think is that these kids are not being given or made aware of resources to amplify that imagination. A sense of enthusiasm towards the arts is what makes people want to do them, not just being artistic. This enthusiasm will not be created if the student feels he doesn’t have any resources to do it with (and a good teacher to lead him).

    3. Family & Community: Schools still lack a good system of keeping many broken homes and students with no homes going to school. Ultimately, home is a student’s standard of living. If their home isn’t stable, they are not going to want or be able to go to school.

    4. Science: money money money & understanding of higher learning. Science careers are best formed from high school to universities. The relationships between many high schools and colleges is nonexistent. There are plenty of kids who love science. But how are we to reward them if we: 1. Don’t make them aware there are schools that prize them and give them scholarships for achieving in it. 2. Don’t have enough money to reward those kids at the high school level to go to space camp, try there own experiments with school given tools and supplies, or even just share a dead frog.

    5. Wiggle room: Ultimately students and teachers both feel this new set of lines they must fall into. It doesn’t allow for those who want to be creative to be very creative. And it doesn’t allow those who are very passionate, to be very passionate either. The national standard is limiting us to just that; being standard. Not only that, it’s teaching student’s that’s what they need to be. Give resources, money, and help to faculty and students and the school will thrive.

  46. rukmono says:

    hi, your post was interested.
    i’m from indonesia, nice to know you here.
    may i know, where are you come from?

  47. henkiller says:

    You’re probably right about everything!! But let me just tell you about the education system i grew up in. The govt has set up 3 standards… two of them are nationalised, one aims to help students to cope with the pace of the world, and the other with an easier curriculum. And the govt allows all the states to have a syllabus of their own. We end up in one of these, depending on our parents perception.

    Yea, the basic system followed here too is rigid and i’m worried about the same issues as you are. But its up to the student himself, whether to follow the system blindly or to scratch his head to make his way through the system. Sure, the system has loop holes, finding them is purely a consequence of the passion, guts and how desperate a student is to beat it!!

    Ofcourse it takes time for a student to understand the system and realise what he wants. But when he does, he’s got to make a brave move. By this, i even consider any path which maybe illegal too. Take my case for example, i spoke to one of my proff whose subject which i think is completely irrelevant to me and made him understand my views and he gives me a decent grade in every test, no matter how bad i do. And the next part is more important, during his classes i go work on my personal projects which i really want to accomplish!!

    All i want to tell is that, the brave survive the worst. And you dont have to be extra-ordinary to be that!!

  48. nadinemurtaza says:

    I want to agree with what you’re saying… but it’s too easy and too confusing at the same time. I’m a teacher in Pakistan where anyone who can help it buys their way to an external examination administered by Cambridge University because our high school matriculation board is terrible, demands rote learning, tolerates rampant cheating, and issues a very very basic qualification. Pakistan is finally beginning to look at national standards, something the Kerry-Lugar bill is making possible, and relying on the U.S. to put in place a teacher certification program with some substance to it.

    We have a short school day (public schools run double shift and still cant accommodate all our kids; mothers don’t need schools to watch their kids till 5pm because they or the extended family is available to care for them), we have large classrooms, we are a multi-lingual culture… I understand that I’m comparing apples to oranges at one level because we also have a terrible examination system, poorly trained teachers, and a dark passion for rote learning that has endured all efforts at reform… Even so, as a country aspiring to adopt the very aspects of the ‘successful’ Western model of education (smaller classrooms, more individual attention, more engaging instruction) that you have denounced in your article; I feel both the excitement and the anxiety experienced by the kid at the back of the line, when he realizes that the line may face about the other way, placing me, suddenly, miraculously near the front. And suddenly the shame of having lagged behind could be turned to a triumph, into an opportunity to lead for once…

    I do not feel triumphant however, or particularly hopeful that schools either in Pakistan or in the US will ever accomplish more than they do now. Education is not the duty of a school, it is the duty of society in general. The idea of teachers who are hired to be nothing more than teachers for instance, is something we will have to replace. Everyone must be a teacher of what they do, what they think, and also a student themselves. Life and learning are the same, they must lived not simulated. Society must become a school, public and work places must become child-friendly (and even child-powered thereby), this separation of minds according to the age of the bodies that carry them must end.

    are far behind India, China and the Asian tigers in terms of providing universal education but our best students do rival them (not statistically perhaps but in terms of accomplishment) in terms of Math and Science scores… despite this, and despite

  49. allwaysunmended says:

    I’m a mother of three who has butted heads with local school systems more times than I can count. One of our main issues is that all three of our kids have “special considerations” in learning and social skills (autism, ADHD, mood disorders … all hereditary, before anyone jumps in saying I’m hopping some psychiatric bandwagon).

    It’s a common theme to see people saying that we, as a society, need to embrace diversity and be more accepting of differences, but school is the major culprit I’ve seen squashing those philosophies, even as the spout them.

    I believe we need to find a way to group students less by age (grade) and more by academic interest, more like high schools and colleges do. If we can figure out how to work this system into the elementary school levels and cut down on things like Saxon Math’s “learn by repetition means doing the exact same worksheet five times” hullaballoo. Kids aren’t stupid, and they want to learn. They get frustrated when they are assigned something they’ve already done umpteen times. They hunger for new ideas and new ways to look at the world. It is their special gift to society. And schools these days seem to be trying to do everything they can to squash that.

    I don’t particularly agree with all of your ideas here, but I do applaud you for looking for new and creative ways to solve an increasingly difficult problem.

  50. Tracey says:

    First, let me thank all of you for participating in this discussion. I’m definitely learning a lot of things. You all have very interesting perspectives. Forgive me if I don’t respond to each one of you…

    @ Pearl’stwirl: I will check out your education post. This is going to be a very busy couple of weeks for me w/ Christmas, and preparing for a school visit, so it may not happen very soon. But I will check it out.

    @Sister Earth: A “concentrated” schedule is a brilliant idea to give students more time with a subject without extending the school day. I was going to suggest this to my school board myself. Let me know if/how it works.

    @atomsforgreen: I agree about Michelle Rhee. However, I’m of two minds about teacher’s unions. They’re there to protect teachers, and teachers do need that protection, but they can also make it difficult to fire teachers who are under-performing.

    @kloppenmum: I recently loaned Sharon Creech’s A FINE FINE SCHOOL to the principal at my daughter’s school and a school board member to remind them that kids need to play. It’s a lovely book. Check it out.

    @ Imane: absolutely.

  51. Tracey says:

    I’m also very grateful to the students who have commented here. I think that what you have to say is very important for finding solutions.

    @thesyncingship: (great name, btw) grades/test scores are great ways to measure performance, but I never thought about students only working for their grades, and not caring about the material. Another thing to consider. Thanks for adding that to the mix.

    @mybakingempire: I think kids are more un-motivated than un-interested in learning. It may be a matter of the way that material is being presented, and it may also be about letting kids do the kind of work that interests them the most. Both you and @dearexgirlfriend are right that schools need to modernize.

    @SAsammygirl: I think you should listen to your family! And you’re right. There’s no one answer to this problem, which is why I think it’s so difficult to solve.

    @rtcrita: parent involvement is critical to student success. You clearly worked hard to make sure your kids did well. Kudos.

    @djt: Having worked for a textbook publisher for a while, I’m familiar with the FCAT and other state standards. I understand how imposing those standards can be and how stressful for students and teachers. I hope that there is a better solution for students and teachers out there.

    @rukmono: I’m originally from Trinidad.

    @nadinemurtaza: thanks so much for posting. I was very interested in what you had to say. I am hopeful that solutions will be found to improve schools here and the world over. I grew up in a third world nation, and I understand completely about the lack of resources and how corruption sneaks in. However, I did find that the education I got in Trinidad was superior to the one I got here when I moved as a teen. Also, I’m not denouncing anything. The data suggests that larger classes have been successful. I’m definitely not denouncing more engaging instruction. Rather, I think the instruction needs to be more engaging if we’re going to move to larger class sizes.

  52. nlvogs says:

    I would definitely have to say that I agree and appreciate your message. The post is genuine, but I do want to say that it is important not to discredit some of the accomplishments of GOOD TEACHERS. I am talking about individuals inside of the system who do encompass the curriculums centered around progressive education. And I also want to say that there are some brilliant minds coming out of the schools and universities these days, and it is this country’s innovative responsibility to harness and capture their successful efforts, and to propel them further.

  53. Tracey says:

    @allwaysunmended: I think that grouping kids by academic interest and ability, even at the elementary level, is an excellent idea, and might help to alleviate a lot of the behavior problems from kids who are interested in different kinds of material, or need a different approach to the material. Thanks for posting.

  54. Tracey says:

    @nlvogs: as a former teacher and a mom of kids who have had great teachers, I fully acknowledge that there are some truly great ones out there. I would like for those teachers to have more of a say in education reform than the people who are currently making the decisions.

  55. wadingacross says:

    I’m not prescribing per se the exact model of the 1800’s educationally, which typically were one room school houses with a single teacher. I am proposing the overarching model. A movie from 1941 my wife and I just watched noted the difference. “Modern” education promotes progression, steps. Older education “dared” the students to succeed.

    There is really no underlying impetus in our educational system these days. Higher education is assumed. We’ve raised several generations of children now and people who believe that education is a right, and that higher education is expected. Education is a privilege, not a right, no matter how much people who think it’s a right may try to make arguments that it is so – you have zero proof or foundation for your argument. By paying so much attention to quantity in our educational system, we – and by extention our children – have on the whole, little regard, little respect for it. There is no quality in our education. Sure, they can learn interesting languages and higher maths or learn interesting subjects like women’s studies, but for what?

    Our children largely come out of school wondering what to do next and expecting things to be handed to them. Education is now largely not understood as a valued commodity among individuals who graduate. We go thru educational systems for the mere sake of it. What good is a degree in Women’s studies? What good is a degree in History? If you’re going to get a job as a professor or a teacher, that’s all well and good, but too many people are getting what are really worthless degrees because they’re going taking courses based upon what interests them.

    There is no forward thinking. When I was growing up I had many adults tell me that I ought to learn a trade, something I could fall back on besides a degree. I never took them up on that sound advice. And we are a nation that certainly is technologically advanced, but is largely non-self-sufficient. How many of you could save a few bucks by changing your own water pump on your car or doing some minor plumbing and carpentry work as needed?

    And it shows in our cultural shift. Around the same time that our educational system became more centralized and “progressive”, so too did our cultural habits begin to shift. We moved further away from self-sufficiency towards dependency and more importantly, materialism. There is nothing wrong with buying things and nothing wrong with business, but our government and many big businesses have gotten into bed with each other for well over a century and the progressive movement was right in the mix with it.

    This leads me to individuals like Soros or Van Jones. I’m not stating that they specifically are behind or are forming any new “system”, but they certainly are part of it, sharing similar views. It is a harder progressive/marxist/centralized view.

    Our nation is on a precipice economically. Europe, after 60+ years of hardcore socialistic bureacracy and economics is about to melt down. They can no longer keep their healthcare and educational systems afloat with centralization and government subsidization. Their whole system of culture has surrounded the idea of entitlement, that people have a right to healthcare and education. Yet they are top-heavy and are about to collapse under it. We are headed down the same road, and individuals like Soros and Van Jones want to keep us on this road, with greater centralization.

    It all starts in the home. Until people begin teaching quality, responsibility, culpability, respect, self-sufficiency, core values that our nation had which helped propel us before the industrial revolution fully took hold here, our educational system, and to an extent our nation, will not fully pull out of anything that happens. This is why I believe that no real reform put forward by anyone currently in the educational system or government will work. Like the Israelites wandering for 40 years in the desert until the original members all died off could the people go into Israel, so too I suspect that our nation is going to have to have a complete cultural/social shift to truly get any reform in education, or any other aspect of our nation. Boiling it down, restoration. The progressive movement has done a great disservice to this nation and its evidence is in our culture, in our homes and in our educational system. The only way that our educational system will see real reform is for the progressive system to not enter into the equation at all. The only way for that to happen is for no politicians or educators who hold to that idea to be involved. The only way for that to happen is time, for a complete ground up cultural shift to occur, and that is not going to happen with the methods individuals like Soros, Van Jones and others are espousing for this nation.

  56. Ms. Moe says:

    I home educated my four children for nine years. It worked well for us for the most part because I had the funds to buy materials, the drive to figure out how to teach what I didn’t know myself, and the parenting skills to make sure my children did the work and learned.

    Then I became single and home education became impossible; I went back to school to become endorsed–as a teacher. Now I’ve taught public school–8th- and 9th-grade English–for eight years. I work about seventy hours per week and have developed heart problems from the stress, working with 220-230 students each year. I am working myself to death, literally, and many of my students fail. Why? Not due to a lack of knowledge, experience, or effort on my part (even when it took teaching for eight years before I was paid enough to live on).

    But I see two problems: One, I teach so many students (the average class size is 34) that one-on-one help is difficult, if not impossible. Class size may not matter if you look at China or Japan, but American teenagers are not that well behaved, especially in groups. We do not, like Japan, refuse to admit students who disrupt (although perhaps we should). The bigger my classes are, the more time that is taken away from learning by classroom management. So many students who need more help are not getting it. Most of them won’t come in for after-school help; they’re teenagers–they don’t see the value of learning to read and write effectively and they don’t have enough maturity–or haven’t been given a reason–to care. And don’t get me started on the 35 hours it takes to provide feedback on a set of 230 papers, none of which time is paid.

    Which leads to problem number two–the bigger one: Parents are so busy, distracted, and lacking in parental authority skills (for whatever reason) that many, too many, do not make sure their children are doing their school work. I see my students at the mall or hear them talk about parties, Facebook, gaming systems, etc., and I know they are flunking more classes than just mine. I see them with I-pods, cell phones, expensive clothes, and toys which their parents have given them, even though the kids lie to them repeatedly about homework and have “F’s” term after term. I see so many students who are learning that they will be given what they want without lifting a finger (or opening a book) or being honest.

    I hear parents threaten consequences that they do not back up with action. I see them enforce consequences inconsistently. I see them act surprised when Johnny has an “F” yet again, saying “But he always tells me he has no homework.” Some parents refuse to believe their children would lie to them–that might mean they aren’t “good parents.” I see parents so afraid to lose the approval of their children that they will not confront them. One parent told me, “I don’t believe in consequences.” Good luck with that one, sweetheart. Your child will have a shocking wake-up call someday soon when she is either fired or pregnant. Consider: A wise man once said that there is as much love in justice as there is in mercy.

    Too many are raising this generation of children to be irresponsible and self-centered–even more so than any generation before. Fundamentally, it’s not the kids’ fault; they only know what they have been taught. They are like us: they will do as little as possible to get what they want. Corollary: they will do as much as they have to, to get what they want. But we give them what they want regardless. Perhaps the biggest lesson kids need right now is the law of the harvest: You reap what you sow. Parents may not know how to be a good authority figure, but that only means they need to be proactive about finding out how to be one. I guarantee any school counseling office can help out there.

    Disclaimer #1: I have seen countless terrific parents who keep an eye on their students’ grades and assignments, who hold their children responsible for the work they need to do but don’t have the maturity to value, who teach and enforce values of honesty, hard work, responsibility, and accountability, who understand that when their children make mistakes it doesn’t automatically make them a “bad parent,” who need to teach parenting classes to so many others.

    Disclaimer #2: My own children. No, they’re not perfect. I have one who barely graduated from high school because I was “too busy” going back to school to enforce our family values and who is only now, at 25, learning the law of the harvest. And it’s a hard lesson. I know that I failed her in many ways, and I cannot undo what has been done.

    A related article of interest:
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700090568/Parental-leadership-and-our-poverty-of-attention.html

  57. kloppenmum says:

    A solution could be to insist all students do all subjects and make the top academic award in schools for the best all rounder and include marks in art, drama, music, handcraft, metalwork, sport etc. That would then shift the focus of education from a small core of subjects to a more rounded curriculum.

  58. ohkamisvoice says:

    I’m thinking that the people in charge of this don’t need to be in charge… We need some fresh blood sitting in the high chairs; preferably some people who had art and music class growing up. If we don’t keep these programs ging we’ll lose the beautiful foundation of innovation… IMAGINATION

    Don’t stop Howling…
    OhKami’s Voice

    ohkamisvoice.com

  59. Tracey says:

    @kloppenmum, @ohkamisvoice: a well-rounded curriculum would definitely be better, along with people “in the high chairs” who know how important creative classes are.

    @enjoibeing: thanks! and you’re welcome 😉

  60. quin44 says:

    There seems to be a problem throughout the English speaking world.It seems strange that governments are throwing more and more “resources” at education and yet literacy and numeracy rates are declining and there are more and more problems with discipline in schools.I suspect that a lot of this has to do with the government setting targets instead of standards.Once a target has been set then scools are required to meet tthat target.To demonstrate that they have done so they are required to fill out more and more paperwork. Failure to meet targets can result in reduced funding.Thus teachers teach so that they can fill out the paperwork and send it in rather than actually teaching the children according to their abilities.Their seems to be an obsession with equality but this seems to end up with the courses being dumbed down so the best students are brought down to the level of the worst.I feel they should get rid of the beaurocrats in the education authorities and replace them with teachers who have plenty of actual teaching experience in a classroom.

  61. Cherszy says:

    I agree. And I guess, it’s not only the States who needs to get rid of the “more manure” way of thinking. I’m a student outside the US and it feels like all we do in school is think rationally and they teach us to forget about creativity because it won’t get you a high-paying job or a six-digit salary. That sucks big time, really! I hate it because thinking rationally and scientifically all the time is very stressful. Papers, reports, papers, reports… that’s what we do night and day. I want the education system to be more creative such that we can explore sides of ourselves and see the world in a way apart from facts and figures. I want us, students, to appreciate more of Gaudi, of Picasso, of Beethoven, and of Mark Twain. There’s more to life than longer class hours and 50-page papers.

  62. difind says:

    Being a creative college student myself, I couldn´t agree more with you… Besides the need of schools having more liberty when taking decisions, one BIG factor you forgot to mention is the lack of education at a human level.
    A proper education doesn´t mean just putting raw data into kids brains, but also teaching how properly manage that date.

    Teaching our children how to be better members of society is a capacity that parents long ago forfeited to the TV and Internet… and teachers can´t do much about it either because that would mean they are ¨intruding into a student´s personal liberty¨.

    We want students to be intelligent, exercise, and be social… yet by the time they get to high school, the great majority has to settle for only 1 or 2 of these traits… something is wrong. It seems we have gone from students seeking wisdom (Socrates) to the present, where students feel coerced into learning ¨stuff¨ because theyd rather be entertained.

    I myself did a post on the problems high school education –
    http://difind.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/hate-school-click-here/

    Great post !! And Congralutions on being freshly pressed!

  63. Mama Bear Ping says:

    I think you have some very valid points.

    I think one point that you didn’t make in your article is lack of parental involvement. I know some parents who believe it to be the teacher/school/government’s job to educate their children. I even had one friend tell me that she told her child’s teacher, “I’m not her teacher. You are. What are you going to do to make sure she learns what she needs to?” I think part of our failing educational prowess is also attributed to parental apathy when it comes to a child’s education. As parents, we shouldn’t shirk our responsibility to raise our children to the school system. Going to school should just be one of the many roads our children take to be self-sufficient, intelligent, mature, contributing members to society. It shouldn’t be the only road.

    It’s another way we as a society have allowed the government to be a crutch. It’s another avenue towards lack of personal responsibility and the belief that the government will be a solution to all our problems.

  64. Minka says:

    I find it amazing that things like the arts music and language are so disposable, but probably some of the most important things. I lived in a small town and we didn’t even have a full time spanish teacher.. we were able to take the minimum amount from the state in spanish classes. When we had hispanic students start coming to our school they didn’t speak english and we had no way of helping them it was pathetic.
    I also found what really made the difference with my education was the teacher dedication. I went to many different schools and many of the inner city schools I had gym teachers teaching history when their obvious passion was gym and sports it didn’t make for a good teaching environment wasn’t good because of it.
    In the small schools i had some teachers who had been teaching one subject for their entire lives and it was obvious they were passionate about it. It was those teachers who were really able to teach me the subject and show me how much there is to it. We need to involve that aspect in more schools.

  65. Sheryl Stark says:

    I agree with Mama Bear ping…parents need to get more involve in getting kids ready for the future. Raising a child should include all major parties …parents, government, church…if I may…, etc. You know I am getting ready to sign another hearing impaired child up for school…as a part of Jamaica Deaf Education Project Inc., and some of the reasons parents give is beyond understanding. There seem to be no government involvement to make sure children attends school…which equals no education.

  66. JatinS says:

    Here are my views about the education system and problems with it :

    #1. Larger classes are not better. In any class, some students feel that they are not as good as others and hence refrain from asking questions in class. In a larger class, they go unnoticed and their doubts are never cleared. A smaller class can help in such cases.

    #2.The emphasis on, so called, CORE subjects kills creativity. I believe that if a student doesn’t like studying Maths, then he should not be forced to. You do best only when you do it whole heatedly. Force can’t make you learn. It can only make you score which in short term may be mistaken for learning. One must understand that a world where everybody is a scientist in no good world. But schools, in general, do NOT kill creativity. The social environment that schools provide is a must for creative and intellectual development of an individual.

    #3. I think its time we move beyond the conventional classroom teaching. Teachers should work primarily as mentors and not as dictators. They should guide their students whenever they need help. I think with the amount of information available via books and internet you can do a lot yourself and in case of doubts, you should be able to consult a teacher/mentor. Plus they should help students in the practical application of concepts.

    #4. Their is no point making a child learn everything ranging from literature to history to science. After a particular age students should have the freedom to chose their subjects in school. That way they’ll be doing what they want.

    _____________
    Jatin SHRIDHAR

  67. kasj says:

    thank you for this bog, i agree and although i seek to be understood as a fashion designer ( or just to share my lovely imagination), i also delightfully commit several hours a week teaching children. u must allow them to dream, these are our innovators, doctors, congress people. you and i must also lead them… we cannot expect this unsocial, social society to listen to them, smile at them, and take them to the park, ask them look in the sky,”lets pretend to fly to another galaxy, what do you see, because i see a purple monkey on a miniature chetah space ship with only half a mohawk, flying in the sky!” most likely, now days, if you say all of this, they look at you like your crazy… but then they begin… and it takes each of us 🙂

  68. Tracey says:

    I agree that parent involvement is key to student success.

    I appreciate all of your comments. And I’m especially grateful to the students and teachers who have been taking the time to comment.

    We may have to have a longer discussion about homeschooling in another post. There are so many of you on here.

    Thanks again, all!

  69. awesome games says:

    I agree with Mama Bear ping…parents need to get more involve in getting kids ready for the future. Raising a child should include all major parties …parents, government, church…if I may…, etc. You know I am getting ready to sign another hearing impaired child up for school…as a part of Jamaica Deaf Education Project Inc., and some of the reasons parents give is beyond understanding. There seem to be no government involvement to make sure children attends school…which equals no education.

  70. firstthough says:

    A very interest point of view… May be that is why maths & sciences still are not better in the US… Lack of imagination… Math can be fun also…

  71. Nishita says:

    I am not so sure that a non-national curriculum is a good idea. Standardization is good. When families move from one place to another, it is heartening to know that at least in terms of schooling, there won’t be radical differences.

    That said, I really believe that education is also in the hands of parents and the society structure. We can’t just blame the schools and the policies. Families are important in this whole equation

  72. live4joy says:

    I appreciate your perspective on this. I fight this battle in my own classroom every day. So many meaningless assessments and timetables are thrown at us that there is less and less time to actually teach. We need to be raising a generation of thinkers and problem solvers, not test-takers. While I do think that standardization is a good thing to a certain degree, I wholeheartedly believe that schools, teachers, and students should be allowed more flexibility to apply those standards in meaningful ways rather than simply checking them off a list and moving on. We ARE losing our creativitity. It is absolutely frightening.

  73. Tracey says:

    What amazes me, live4joy, is that parents, students and teachers recognize that losing creativity is frightening, but that knowledge seems to elude anyone making education decisions. It’s a travesty.

    @Nishita: I think everyone who has commented agrees that parent involvement is extremely important. And part of that is advocating for better schools.

    Thanks for posting, guys.

  74. thepaulohana says:

    I don’t think there is a solution; mainly because our future leaders are more intrested in texting in class than learning the material. Even if we found a way to fund the art and music classes back into the system…it takes a student passionate enough to learn what is being taught. Why do that when Google has all the anwsers? I think a better way to approaching this might be helping children learn how to love to learn again. That would have to start at home first. The magic school bus and Bill Nye the science guy are not even re-runs anymore, parents have to teach their children that learning is a fun and rewarding experiance.

  75. mpaulphotography says:

    Grats on being Freshly Pressed.

    I did want to point one thing out that’s a flaw in your article – China did indeed rank #1, but if you look closer, the scores that put them there are only from one specific city (the most advanced city according to the NY Times) and the scores are cherry picked for the best possible image. The comparison isn’t equal to those countries who ranked with a national average.

    If we truly want to change our education system, don’t look to China – let’s look at the countries that made the top – Korea and Finland. What are they doing that we aren’t? We can all agree that the US system needs work but I don’t think China has all the answers.

  76. things.expload says:

    I completely agree with you, I’m 16 and I’m still making my way through this horrible system, I’m in Canada though but our school systems are very similar. I’ve noticed that so many of my teachers will say “Think out of the box” or “Be creative” but then when you come up with something creative or you try to relate your assignment to something your interested in, your considered to have thought to far out of the box and thats unacceptable. Another thing I’ve found is that teachers will tell you one thing and then your mark will reflect something else, I’ve gotten assignments back where the comments will be 100% all positive but then the assignment will have a grade of 60%.

  77. gvisionaries says:

    Thank you for pointing out how schools need to be given more control over their curriculum in order to help students succeed. In case you have not heard of us, we are Global Visionaries, a 501c3 nonprofit organization in Seattle. We partner up with Seattle-area high schools to provide students with training and education about social justice and environmental issues.

    We believe young people should be given an education that cultivates their hearts to take action. Anytime a blogger takes issue with today’s education system as compartmentalizing learning, we try to respond positively!

    Kudos for saying what our elected leaders need to hear. Keep up the good work, Tracey.

  78. Tracey says:

    @thepaulohana: you’re saying what many others have, that parents really need to be more involved.

    @mpaulphotography: absolutely right. China’s results weren’t based on a cross-section of students across the nation, and one reporter said that the U.S. is trying to educate everyone, which makes for a harder task to accomplish. But if we move to a system where schools have more autonomy over what/how they teach, then China’s still a good example. But good catch. Thanks.

    @things.expload: I’m sorry that school is so frustrating for you. Teachers have their hands tied by standards that don’t work. They’re probably trying to teach you how to do well on the many tests you have to take because of state standards. I hope you find other ways to be creative in your non-academic life.

    Thanks for posting, guys!

  79. Tracey says:

    @gvisionaries: that sounds like a great organization. If you were closer to me, I’d apply for a job. It’s exactly what I’d like to be doing (other than writing books). Thanks for stopping by to post.

  80. henkiller says:

    Well, an interesting article I must say. But it’d have made much more sense if you had actually explored a few more alternatives. I’m a student and I’m a part of that system which is controlling everyone, as you said. Here in my country too, we got standards set by the government which all the educational institutions are following, which I can do nothing about than to follow it. But I’m not complaining.

    I’m 21, and I’ve lived with the system long enough to understand it. It took time, I dont deny that, a lot of time indeed. This got me into searching for loop holes in it, legal and illegal too. I had the guts it needs and thankfully I was lucky enough.

    The system is not all about the negatives, there are things which are really appreciable. All I did was appreciate these things by taking up extra classes in those subjects I love, to show how thankful I am for the system. And now about the subjects which really dont matter to me, I’ve made arrangements to get decent grades without even worrying about them. The way you choose is left to you, pester your profs, or get an approval from the board or even tamper with the records.

    I really dont blame the system for anything, ofcourse there is a need to make it better. All I want to say is, you dont have to be its slave. The one with the really passion and desperartion to explore things outside the system will do it, no matter what!!

  81. The Excited Neuron says:

    “It’s kind of like the government controlling how you run your own family. You’re better equipped to say what your family needs or doesn’t need, and schools should have the same advantage.”

    I agree–hypothetically. However, there are many families that don’t necessarily know what a child needs. Worse, there are some that just don’t care and basically use the public education system as a “free” babysitting service.

    This is also related to another one of your points: “I’ll be the first to admit that I thought a national curriculum was a good idea. I thought having across the board standards would eliminate the nonsense that is wealthy schools getting all the resources while inner-city schools get left in the dust.”

    One of the things that often makes a school great is wealthy parents. Where do you usually find them? Affluent towns. These parents typically do care and are equipped to know what their kids need. How is it “nonsense” then, that wealthy schools get a lot of resources while inner-city ones get left in the dust? Like it or not, it makes perfect sense. These parents usually care about their children’s education as an investment for their future, and naturally they want to make darn sure that their schools receive excellent resources.

    “I also thought that smaller classes would be better, but that’s also proving to be wrong. Larger class sizes mean that teachers can be paid more, and higher-paid teachers is reportedly one of the reasons China’s educational system is number one.”

    I’m curious about this; do you have a citation/reference?

    “So now that we have new information, let’s re-conceptualize our ideas about education. Longer days (more manure) isn’t cutting it. But a longer school year might help U.S. students catch up to everyone else.”

    Non sequitur. There is a major disconnect here; how is a longer school year different than longer school days? If nothing else changes, either one is “more manure”.

    “Think that can happen now that we’ve eliminated creative subjects like art from the curriculum and science is learned from a textbook rather than by having students theorize and experiment?”

    Actually, the national standards you oppose in this same post push for students in science to hypothesize (not theorize–I think you have the two confused) and experiment.

  82. Tracey says:

    @henkiller and @the excited neuron (and many others): I’m worried that you guys think this is an article. It’s not. I’m not presenting news here. These are my thoughts. That said, thanks for responding.

    @henkiller: I’m not opposed to alternatives. What I’m saying is that there needs to be alternatives, and that what we need to come up with better ideas that work to educate kids better. Like you, students and parents have to find ways to navigate the system to get the best education possible. Where I place blame is with the people who are making education decisions based on politics rather than on what’s best for students.

    @the excited neuron: I agree that some families are better than others when it comes to their kids’ needs, but I’m speaking in general terms here.

    I disagree that wealthy parents care more. I’ve worked for both private and public schools, and I’ve seen enough wealthy parents use schools as babysitters just as other parents you’ve mentioned. And probably much worse because they think they’re buying it. Just because some people can throw money at a school doesn’t mean they care more.

    My reference about the larger class sizes comes from the Bloomberg article I quoted in my post.

    A longer school year is absolutely different from a longer school day. Young kids especially get exhausted with a longer day. Plus if they have after school activities, it makes their day close to impossible (I speak from experience with my own kids). Whereas a shorter school day, but longer school year is much more manageable. Kids need the ability to rest and to play during the day. More hours in a day doesn’t provide for enough of either.

    My main point about the national curriculum was that it virtually eliminates all creative/language subjects. I didn’t say anything about science standards. My point was that more creative subjects would enhance the core curriculum.

    Both theory and hypotheses are untested ideas. They have slightly different applications, but I chose the one I wanted to use.

  83. The Excited Neuron says:

    “I disagree that wealthy parents care more. I’ve worked for both private and public schools, and I’ve seen enough wealthy parents use schools as babysitters just as other parents you’ve mentioned. And probably much worse because they think they’re buying it. Just because some people can throw money at a school doesn’t mean they care more.”

    I never said wealthy parents care more, just that they do usually care. Perhaps they are more likely to care. I have also worked in both public and private schools. The private school parents can be a pain in the arse sometimes, but I’ll take them any day over the uninvolved parental community of the public school I previously taught at.

    “A longer school year is absolutely different from a longer school day. Young kids especially get exhausted with a longer day. Plus if they have after school activities, it makes their day close to impossible (I speak from experience with my own kids). Whereas a shorter school day, but longer school year is much more manageable. Kids need the ability to rest and to play during the day. More hours in a day doesn’t provide for enough of either.”

    What I wrote seems to have been unclear, so I’ll attempt to clarify. The results of a longer day versus a longer year are both going to be “more manure”, to use your words, if that is the sole variable that changes. Longer day or longer year, students still aren’t going to excel if all the other factors remain the same (apathy, poor pedagogy, lack of creativity, lack of autonomy, poor funding, lack of resources, unqualified teachers, etc).

    “My main point about the national curriculum was that it virtually eliminates all creative/language subjects. I didn’t say anything about science standards. My point was that more creative subjects would enhance the core curriculum.”

    I did not say that you referred to the national science standards in particular. You did, as I already stated, oppose national curriculum and then stated that “science is learned from a textbook rather than by having students theorize and experiment”. I pointed out to you that the national standards for science do NOT promote teaching from a textbook (quite the opposite).

    Also, in science, theory and hypothesis DO have drastically different applications and meanings. Since you were referring to science, I wanted to point this out. A theory is a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena (such as the theory of relativity, evolutionary theory, etc.). Theories are generally not untested. A theory has usually already undergone extensive testing by various scientists and is generally accepted by the scientific community as being an accurate explanation of an observation. A hypothesis, on the other hand, attempts to answer questions by putting forth a plausible explanation that has yet to be rigorously tested. Unfortunately for science teachers, most people in their everyday language use the word “theory” synonymously with “conjecture”.

    Of course, a science teacher’s dream would be that their students continue on the scientific journey and do indeed participate in theorizing, but in class, we hypothesize. 😉

  84. Tracey says:

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree about wealthy/non-wealthy parents. I’ll take the public school parents any time.

    I bring up the longer school day/year subject because that’s currently a big discussion in the schools, and the longer year is the better option. It’s by no means the only solution.

    Every school I’ve visited in the last year has used a science textbook and the teachers wish they had labs for more hands-on work.

    Theories are still mainly conjecture. While they are tested, they can be refuted. My intention in using the term “theorize” is still appropriate.

  85. damonasumner says:

    I thought the post had some very valid posts. I’m a new teacher and I can already see how the US school system is need of a serious revamping. I’m not sure how and when something will take place but it needs to soon. Our future is in the minds, hearts and hands of the students in school right now. We need to support , encourage and assist them in every way possible.

  86. henkiller says:

    And about letting the institutions to have their own syllabus…

    No doubt some schools will hit the right strategy and excel but you have to admit that some of them end up deteriorating no matter what they implement. By standardizing it on a national scale, we’ll be able to monitor and compare every school and improve on them accordingly. Ofcourse, each school follows the standards set by the govt in their own way and by this we can take the positives from every school and discuss about the negatives too.

    I’m not here to oppose you and your views, I believe that the system is faultered too. But by stopping you from completely hating the system, we can hopefully end up with formulating the necessary amount of freedom to be given to the schools and also certain things which all the schools have to follow strictly.

    A new system rarely brings instant success. It has to be tried, evaluated and discussed before discarding it or to accept it completely.

  87. Tracey says:

    @henkiller, I’m happy for the discussion, and I’m grateful to you for participating. I don’t hate the system. NCLB has had several years and it has failed and frustrated many (not that education before NCLB was so much better). So what I’d like to see are real experts take over.

    As for schools taking over their own academic programs: that was noted in the Bloomberg article as one reason the Chinese schools were able to improve student achievement (granted this was not at the national level). But I think it’s worth taking a look at.

    Again, thanks for participating. I appreciate your comments.

  88. hutchinson20 says:

    What a wonderful post and discussion! I am new to blogging and felt the desire to participate in this ongoing commentary.

    I am 22 and about to graduate with my bachelor’s in elementary education K-6. While these issues threaten my passion to some degree, I try to use them as further motivation to make a difference.

    Through my experience at the university I have been involved in multiple clinical experiences which have exposed me to many of the issues you have discussed above. For example, a teacher at a local school was confronted and threatened by the school principal when she took the liberty of creating her own thematic unit. This teacher was recognized as teacher of the year and holds many other accomplishments to her name such as National Board certification. If we want our students to be creative we have to give that same freedom to our teachers. I have had little to no experience working with curriculum materials like the ones my state board of education supplies and mandates its teachers to use. On the other hand, my college education has consisted of these thematic units and creative plans that the state boards of education seem to be frowning upon. It seems like college is dangling the ideal occupation in front of me while the reality of the situation will turn me into a robot.

    Yes! Our students need exposure to foreign languages– and so do teachers! I traveled in Europe for the first time this summer and was shocked at the multitude of languages people spoke. I know enough Spanish to get around, but I only wish I knew more. My university does not even require its elementary education majors to take a foreign language whatsoever (I still minored in Spanish). What happens when a new student enters our classroom that does not speak English? Talk about communication barriers.

    Thanks for mentioning the Ken Robinson video- it was extremely interesting.

  89. Tracey says:

    hutchinson20, my experience was the same. I was taught at university to do thematic units, and in my first job at a private school, I was able to do it. And it was great. When I moved to public school, that was not possible. I did sneak it in where possible, but that was years ago before all of the NCLB mess so I know it’s even more difficult now. I’d advise you to find ways to make the materials you have to work with more creative. It means longer hours for you, making stuff that goes with the textbooks, but your students will thrive because of it.

    Best of luck to you!

  90. theteachingwhore says:

    We teachers know the anwer to the problems in public schools, but until we can create our own school, nothing will change. My school is run by good old boys and the community supports them.

  91. mannyg234 says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I would love to see more of an emphasis in our schools towards learning a second-language. In a global age, where students from other countries are speaking one, two, maybe even three languages, our students– and children– are at a huge disadvantage. Coming from an inner-city school, I also believe the government, parents, and teachers need to do more to engage those ‘thug gangsta’ kids in these areas. Too many of them are either dropping out or going to jail, I’m tried of seeing this. And no matter how hard I try, it’s just not good enough!!

  92. S. Bonner says:

    Excellent post; while there are several points where I am inclined to disagree, your assertion that we need to pay more attention to where the dollars go hits the nail right on the head.

  93. Josh says:

    Hi, thanks for this article. It’s good, and I agree with you. I am not a parent (yet), but I have been involved in the education system, and have watched two younger (by 15 and 16 years) half-brothers grow up in a different school system from the one I experienced as a child.

    There were two big differences that I noticed between what my brothers experienced as “school” and I what I did – the structure of the classroom, and the structure of home-life.

    When I was in school, classes were very rigidly structured. If you misbehaved you were sent to the Principal’s office, and it wasn’t a good thing (having maybe experienced it once or twice… : ) ). My brothers’ experiences were similar, but dissimilar enough to warrant attention. Kids in classrooms these days have cellphones, which they play on all day. They are distracted. The structure of the class is set by external standards (as you note), making it even harder for teachers to feel like they have control.

    Parents are (it seems to me) both more obsessed with their children’s performance, AND less connected to (or feeling less directly responsible for) their children’s behavior and performance in school, now than they were when I was a child. My parents were involved enough to know that I had my homework done every night, and to know how I was feeling about school and what kinds of grades I was getting. I can’t say the same for my younger brothers. My parents (still) seemed to have changed for them. They were less attentive and involved. My brothers, at the same time, were less interested in school, and more distracted by external entertainments than I was as a child (I didn’t really have video games to play at home when I was a kid, and my family had a rotary phone till I was 12).

    Those are a couple of the things I’ve noticed. Not sure if they reflect “reality,” but I figured I’d throw them out there to see if they resonate.

    Thanks again!

    josh

  94. Eric says:

    I’m a Canadian who just graduated high school last May and I very much agree with you. As creative subjects requiring thoughtful not analytical thinking are very underfunded, especially in public schools. And through my full young life, it’s hard to really point out the most creative thing I’ve done in terms of school work. Most of the time I had to mentally turn my brain to a computer so I can gain the grade I needed and stepping out of requirements usually resulted in failure.
    Better budgeting would be a good solution but some school boards I know should really cut down on requirements and allow the kids to interpret information on their own. Take in consideration on how to make it interesting; doesn’t need to be fully fun, just something to really inspire someone to think. I never really took that approach because the schools I went to were highly academic until my last school which I graduated from which took a more relaxed approach to the curriculum. Though my grades didn’t increase, it did however have an impact in comparison.

    Very nice article, by the way.

  95. apexgenesis says:

    I do support home schooling. I spent 2 years home schooling and in that time learned more than I did in 8 years going to public schools. I too hope to be a teacher one day but at the current rate of decline in the American standard for what passes as a good education I may reconsider. I am however a huge believe in what Einstein had to say about education. Education is not a tool that you can generalize and push onto each individual, and later stand in judgment at their failings. Everyone learns differently, and it is up to the Educators to take that into consideration. To apply one set standard to everyone leaves everyone as a loser.

    I do know a gentleman who is the head of a school board in Penn. , and when he tried to get the school district to take into consideration that children learn better when they are enjoying the environment, and that teachers should spend more time with less students to help allow them to learn better, he was almost ousted. So where is the fault in the people who make decisions, or the people who regulate how they make decisions?

  96. Dr. Kwame M. Brown says:

    @apexgenesis:

    Who was the gentleman on the school board? I may be able to help him, or anyone else needing to make the case for play / enjoyment in school environments. That is my job, to advise on exactly that subject.

  97. Tracey says:

    You have your work cut out for you, Dr. Brown. It seems that very few recognize the positive impact of fun on learning. It’s the basic concept of Montessori though, isn’t it? It’s too bad that there aren’t more Montessori schools that cater to older children.

  98. Nonsensical lover. says:

    I had a feeling we where doing awful as far as schooling goes, not to mention my own school, I cringe at the sight of it anyway. It’s “The Dead Poet’s Society” all over again, only without Mr. Keating.

    The funny thing is with autonomy, is that my school is kind of already doing that. At least in my perspective it is, since the Principal is in charge of where the money goes, the money is not going where it needs (we’re using ATS sheets for paper). Now, I’m all for prioritized spending but is it really “smart” to leave non-educators in charge of the education system, what I mean by this is, does my Principal need a financial adviser, which A) is already a moronic idea financially considering these people cost money and B) because she didn’t take a Finance class in college and doesn’t know the first thing about spending? I don’t think it is, hell, I can ramble on about it day and night but I wanna keep this short.

    All I can say is, I’m learning more from websites than I do in school. There is something wrong with this picture.

  99. Hunnibee says:

    The answer:
    Don’t put learners and teachers in school buildings all day, five days a week. Learn in the world. Write books and build models of learning. Forget the standardized tests. Leave the four walls and ceiling. Bye-bye cookie-cutter curriculum.

  100. Evan VanDerwerker says:

    Hey, Tracey. Great post! I wanted to say (as ironic as it may sound) that you have a very creative blog!

    It is very difficult to nurture the imagination of students when they are being so standardized. The question becomes, though, whether or not there is a viable alternative. I tackled the NCLB situation in a blog post of my own (http://eyeoneducation.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/no-child-left-behind-yea-right/). We have similar thoughts. Mine may be of some interest to you.

    Keep up the good work!
    EV
    http://eyeoneducation.wordpress.com/

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