Friday, February 10, 2017

How Do We View Education?

I have been reading recently about how we are not meeting the needs of certain portions of the population when educating students: girls, boys, blacks, natives, lower class kids, kids with learning disabilities. It seems to me we are not reaching a lot of kids, regardless of who they are. Why is this? Why are we not reaching kids?

Many jump to blame teachers right away. This is a misguided view. Teachers are the employees who carry out the wishes of those who are truly in charge of education, the school board and the government. Teachers may be the most visible and easiest to access but this does not mean they control policy.  

It is more about the way we as adults view education and children. From our point of view we went through it and came out okay so we expect better for our kids. We, as adults have a tendency to lump all children together as if they are all the same. We believe they have the same reading and writing levels, that they are able to all do the math and that they all think the same. Unfortunately this is so far from the truth that it doesn’t even begin to underlie the problems children face everyday.  

You see the issues children face today are different from those we had to face growing up. Because of the use of technology they are growing up faster than ever. They are better connected and better informed. That also means that the problems we faced, such as bullying, are multiplied because it is coming at them in new and different ways. They are more sensitive to homelife issues, more aware of the fact that certain things should not be happening and wanting to change it. They are cut off from discussions and thinking because we as adults think they are not able to handle it, when it is the adults who do not know how to explain it.  

And then there are learning difficulties. Who knows why there are more children with them but there are. Children who have trouble with numbers and letters. Children who cannot read. Teachers used to say kids will find their reading ability. Now a days some children never learn to read at a satisfactory level.  Yet there they are all crammed into classrooms with one teacher and the hope they will all be cured. It doesn’t work that way.

Children of any age need a warm and caring home environment. The same goes for schools. But this is hard to come by in schools these days because of the level of stress infused into every school. The pressure on teachers is intense: from the students, the administration, the parents, the media and the teachers themselves. It is not , as some say if you cannot handle the stress get out of the job. These are some of the warmest, most caring individuals you would ever want to meet, yet after years of dealing with this stress they are burning themselves out. It affects how they do the job. They want to be the best they can be.

Are there solutions? Sure there are but for now we as adults need to face the crisis point and ask ourselves how do we help everyone? We cannot continue to put bandaids on the problem and hope it will go away. We must ask all the right questions and seek the best answers. Keeping on going the way we are is self defeating.