There is a question constantly swirling through my life. Partially because I am a teacher, partially because I am a mother of school aged children, but I think most strongly from a soul wrenching call to action that I’m trying constantly to ignore because I feel so unable to answer.
I see the need for change, for reform, for redoing the system, but I don’t know where to even begin.
So, just to include others in the conversation, I really would love to know your experience, ideas and responses…comment or email or text me – you can try to call, but I usually don’t answer…I’m better with text and I apologize now for that -I am, however, also good at face to face conversation, so if you would rather words pass quickly rather than in text and want a coffee (wine) meeting to discuss, hit me up!
Here is what I am constantly asking and experiencing:
Why do we educate children in the way that we do? For what purpose? and do THEY know why? To go to college? To get a job? To be independent when we’re making them dependent on bells and grades and standards they must reach? Is it useful to create a miniature army of humans who will do anything and everything they’re told? Is it necessary that a child, beginning at the age 5 and continuing until adulthood, be taught how to sit still and focus?? What are we raising them to do?! Do I think education is important? YES. Do I think it is important to read and write and be able to pay attention to the world around ones self? To understand mathematical equations and scientific facts as well as method? To know human history and to be able to analytically take in information and form an opinion based on knowledge, understanding and experience? Yes, yes and yes! But what I don’t understand, even now that I am perpetuating the system by participating in the teaching population, is how or if at all our current education system is doing that. Furthermore, how, if independent, responsible, logical, self and community aware adults are the goal of education, are we teachers supposed to be the people to impart this information?
For the last two years I have had class sizes near around 30 students but because of the way the schedule fell, that meant I had 90 kids. This year, I have closer to 160 students – 3 different classes to prep for, and I am in contact with those students for at least 4-5 hours per week – nearly my full work day 3 out of 5 days a week – Besides showing up to teach them how to become analytical thinkers and responders – to become good communicators and healthy, culturally aware and knowledge seeking citizens, this means I show up to dances, to games, to after school activities to show that I care for their persons outside of their academic world. Besides the interactions, I have planning and grading and planning and grading and planning and grading…. which – in order to give useful feedback and actually encourage growth, I must do outside of my hours at school.
Now – this rant can come off as a complaint about my current situation, but that is not how I want this to be read. The amazing staff and faculty that I work with are dedicated to providing a meaningful education experience for the students at the school, and for the most part the students are actually quite receptive and want to be educated…..
What I want my readers to read is this:
Teachers work upwards of 60-100 hours a week……sometimes more – in order to create spaces for students to understand their individual worth. These students – still children – are in no way shape or form related by blood lines to the teacher. How can we realistically sustain a system of education that requires this of our teachers and the families to which they belong? What needs to change and how do we go about changing well?