Never taught ….

“He missed something in school, Mr Bloch!” was the first response when my 6th grade advisory watched this video. A friend had tweeted the video out earlier in the week. After I watched the video, I wondered how my students felt. Our 6th grade class had an incredible discussion about school following the video.

First point my students understood: “Boyinaband” missed the true purpose of school, to learn how to learn. Students attend everyday to get exposed to knowledge but most of all to figure out how they learn best. Students learn methods to help them grow. Many lessons are also for exposure to what might be a career. Student dissect frogs and learning about cells give students exposure to science and possible medical careers.

Second Point: Many of my students felt they did have lessons connected to their current needs. They shared examples of how their Social Studies teacher connect lessons to our current laws. How in science we made connections to health and wellness. In language arts teachers made references to writing resumes. Connecting our lessons to our students lives has been a push in our district. My student gave great evidence that it is working.

Finally, “Boyinaband” does make some good points. My students want to learn more about coding, finances, health care and technology. We don’t have offerings for them. Our curriculum is too defined in what “society” wants students to learn it gives little voice for students to find a path of passion. One of my students asked, “Why can’t we have exposure to more fields of study? I want to do more in school, do more hands on experiences like at the science museum. I want to make a video game, create music, build toy, electrically wire a device, you know like a job.”

I was impressed. Why can’t school do more doing, less reading about things and practice that has no relevance. Students need to have choices in their paths of learning. Schools should be less concerned about mastery and more concerned about exposure, growth and effort.

Lets make schools a place where students want to go and learn. So someday they will write songs about all they did learn from their teachers.

Failure to Represent…

fair representation

Our country was found on the principal of representative government. The Boston Tea Party was a result of colonists anger over taxes of goods without having an representation in the governing body the levied these taxes. Our we heading down a similar path today with our government? Will it lead to a revolution. Well here in Michigan it might seem that way.

Our legislative body seems to do its bidding without the consensus of the citizens it is supposed to represent. Public act 4 of 2011 allowed our governor to place Emergency Managers in cities and school districts experiencing financial crisis. In November of 2012 the citizens passed a referendum on the act, eliminating financial managers. The majority of our legislative body decided that the citizens were not right in their vote. In December they redrafted the Emergency Manager act signed by our governor December 27, 2012. This act has led to much turmoil in the state. Flint and Detroit Public Schools have seen disastrous out comes under Emergency Managers. The People of Michigan are not being represented  by the majority in Lansing.

In the last few years educators have felt that their voices fall on predominantly defeat ears in Lansing. From budget cuts to evaluation laws teachers feel out of the sphere of influence. The education committee that hears testimony and input for legal changes regarding schools, only meets during school hours/days. That is odd? Shouldn’t the ones most effected by legal changes be able to give input? Teachers can’t even attend the state board of education meetings which are also held during school hours/days. So who testifies? Lobbyist and others with political motives, not classroom educators.

The latest from Lansing  is a series of bills to prevent the sick-outs by the Detroit teachers.

SB 713-715: Provide for changes in provisions concerning designating what is a strike by teachers, and require suspension of teaching certificate for teachers engaging in strikes and deduct 5% in school aid payments from schools who don’t dock pay of striking teachers. Sponsors: Sens. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair; David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, and Joe Hune, R-Whitmore Lake.

First, If these bills were sponsored by Detroit legislators I would understand. All three legislators live in areas, distant from Detroit.  Are they representing their district? or a donor’s political agenda?  Second, The reasoning behind the sick outs was due to the horrible learning conditions for the students, does firing teachers and fining the district solve the conditions in Detroit? Third, Teachers are speaking out for their students. They were not striking. They are raise voices for the voiceless.

We need representation in Lansing. One that looks to solve problems and make the world better, not look to blame others and punish those that speak out on behalf of those without a voice.