Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Reforming Education

This summer I have been hearing quite a bit about Tenure in education. It has been all over Twitter with those in the Twitterverse discussing it`s merit and demerits. As a Canadian I didn't pay much attention to it as I saw it as an American problem.  Famous people talking about how this will solve the educational problem. But with more and more tweets it became clear that it is a smokescreen.This got my attention and as an educator I decided I couldn't sit out this discussion.  And frankly it is a smokescreen. They are babbling about such an insignificant piece of the educational pie that I had to laugh. As if teacher tenure is going to solve the issues facing education. It is not even close to touching the base of the problem.

Education lives in a world where everyone thinks they know what is going on and what the problems are. And they blame teachers. With that simple fact, they blame teachers lies the heart of the issue. How do you expect your children and teachers to work in a positive environment when they are constantly bombarded with how  horrible education is, how it is in a state of decay, how it is not measuring up. School is a hostile place because of the negativity it is given through the press and by famous people who care but have not the time to root out the basic problem. They are part of the problem. Lighten up people. There are as many as 95% and possibly higher of the teachers out there who are doing a terrific job. Give them support and encouragement and that number would climb.

No people there are some serious issues around education. Studies show that home life has a direct influence on how students learn. If a child is not getting enough sleep they cannot focus in class. If there is fighting, arguing, hostility in the home it creates a negative atmosphere which affects how students learn. If there is not enough food in the home or not enough of the right foods it can affect students learning. This comes down to two main issues: poverty and knowledge about childhood development.

Poverty is an age old issue. People have been poor since the beginning of time. We all know the stereotypes. We all have said it is someone else`s problem. Really it is not. It stares teachers in the face everyday. It stares your children in the face everyday. There are students in every public  school anywhere in the world who come from an impoverished home. Time to face it. Some of the children who are your child's friends are poor. The best toys they may ever play with are in your house. Some of the best meals they may eat this week are in your house. Some of the warmest environments they come into contact with are in your house. We don't want to acknowledge it but that is the truth.But why is this? What is it about their homes that cause this to be true. There are many disfunctional homes out there. Why? Poverty, a lack of a sense of fulfillment, a low self esteem because of the economic situation, all have an affect.  I wonder how many self sustaining jobs a billion dollars could create? I wonder if we went to poor neighbourhoods and created jobs specific to their neighbourhood how much their spirits would be lifted and success be felt? I wonder how many children would be lifted to do better things and create a better life. I wonder if all the do gooders out there put their minds together they could solve this problem. People tell me it is complicated, that there are no easy solutions. My answer is we have to start somewhere. Building self esteem works wonders.

Childhood development is one of the most misunderstood terms in the history of man. Everyone has their own perspective on it and are even partially right in how they look at it. But do they realize their words have a great affect on a child? One word negatively can cause a divide. Children carry these things with them day in and day out creating a mental stress. It is tough to get out of that frame of mind. When they get to school they still carry it. In the middle of that Math lesson they are thinking “Why did that happen?” They lost the days teaching and missed the concept. We need to create positive home lives for children. We need to create an environment in the home where they feel loved and trusted and that they can succeed. We need to start feeding them the right foods so their bodies and minds  can develop to their potential. Ban anything that is not from a garden. Yes eating their veggies is good for them. They won’t eat it? They won’t starve. It goes against human nature. With nothing but healthy food in the house they will learn to eat healthily.

It is time to start talking about the real issues facing education. Solving the poverty issue and promoting healthy childhood development is where we need to start. Then we can look into the classrooms and start improving in that direction. Because without solving the poverty and promoting healthy childhood development education will not improve one iota from where it is now. It has to start with the children.

I challenge Bill Gates, Campbell Brown and all the other people who care about education to help solve these issues for all our children, every last one of them. I know we can do it.