Schools spend time and energy to create positive cultures. Students need to feel that the work they are doing in school is meaningful and relevant. Schools work hard to make students from all backgrounds accepted and comfortable. Student voice and choice are helping guide school decisions. The culture of schools is maintained by the teachers, but what happens when students go home?
The culture of learning that schools spend so much energy to demonstrate needs to expend beyond the school campus into the community! Students will know what the school is doing is important when it is reflected in their home lives. Is it? Where do students see Science, Math, ELA, and Social Studies at home? The most visible way for students to see culture is through media. Where is a culture of learning modeled in media? It can be seen on Do It Yourself Show, PBS, and a few other channel: mostly focused on the final product with very little details about the process of figuring things out. Rarely are failures celebrated in our media (unless on funny video shows to laugh). In schools failure happens regularly, as a step in the process of learning.
Often times schools are working against the culture around them. Just look around. Hip Hop music culture promotes language that is banned from schools. “Drop the Mic” on TBS insults and bullying behavior that if done in school would lead to discipline referrals. Television and the internet are jammed packed with images that work against a school culture of learning. Just look at the recent Volkswagen advertisement:
We are selling cars by promoting playing “Hooky”, in a time when schools are struggling with chronic absenteeism. Where is the outrage? Even the t-shirt racks at Target and Walmart are full of messages that the school culture isn’t the “real world”.
If we want to fix our educational system it starts with showing it matters in our culture. We can do better. If not NOW, WHEN? The culture outside of schools should match that with in them!