Time to “Tear Down” the current educational system for educators. It seems the logical place to start in fixing the education system in American.
How did we create a current system that has theoretical experts training actual practitioners? Education is a profession therefore we need to set the system up like other professions. Doctors, Nurses and Lawyers don’t go from classroom strait into the profession so why do we let teachers? We need a systems that slowly nurtures in-coming teachers and keeps them in the profession.
Here are four of my suggestions:
- All schools of Education must be in-bedded in a school district structure to create “teaching” districts. (Similar to teaching hospitals that are often considered the best.) Professors actually teach and students see lessons presented and broken down for for strengths and weaknesses. No more talking about ideas in theory it is show in practice. By connecting the districts to the university programs it will give students and educators more access to necessary resources. Students would spend more time learning in the workplace and less time in the classroom.
- Change the way the re-certification process works. Currently, (in Michigan where I work) districts need to provide every teacher with 30 hours of PD a year. Teacher also need to keep current with 6 college credits every 5 years. This PD is often not relevant to all teachers and college credit not relevant to the schools. So let’s stop wasting the money and have Graduate/Mentoring programs integrated into districts. This would be so much better than for profit grad programs prey on the teachers.
- Foster an environment of sharing instead of competition. Competition is great when it is in sports but school districts need to work together sharing ideas and resources. Collaboration needs to extend out of districts to benefit all students. Time is important t all teachers so we need to try to give someone a hand. “Top” mentor teachers should move from district to district learning and sharing what works.
- Take the business out of “Ed Reform”. The current reform movement is not driven by data or what will help all students. Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush want to sell you their program. The charter school movement is run by for profit companies. Let teachers and districts decide what works not executives that have a profit motive.
One thought on “4 Basic Changes”
The best piece of educational reform would be to return to practical experiences as a required component of education. We learn best (and get the spark of interest) from doing things. So often we are shown how things work, but students seldom get to do. Gone are the one room school houses where older kids helped teach younger kids and gone are (most of) the internships where kids learned how to do things. Kids teaching kids is good for both the teacher and the student building skills in communication and requiring mastery that might not otherwise be achieved. Today so much of school is about what is in books (or increasingly what’s on TV or the internet) and what your teacher says.
As a second point, which relates to this and another post, our economy is increasingly focused on white collar jobs, but no one (that I’ve met) wants to do or even understands these jobs as kids (the interest usually starts in the late teens when they realize what salaries are and that money is needed to do things they find interesting). This complicates building the interest in the subjects those careers require. Without interest there is little dedication and kids will do what’s required of them but will seldom overachieve. Too often kids arrive at a point (usually sometime between the end of high school and the end of college) where they want to make a decision about a career and realize they’ve made a series of previous choices that prevent (or complicate) achieving that option. I think professionals (not just teachers, lawyers, doctors, police officers and firemen which comprise the standard responses of most classrooms) need to do more to show children of all ages why their jobs are interesting and create career visions that kids will aspire to. As an example, professional sports are actually great at building interest in kids. While that’s a career a miniscule portion of children will eventually achieve, it’s an example of a spark that drives interest and dedication for millions of kids.