The Forgotten Purpose of Education

As United States policy makers set out to raise the standards on education by implementing the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), I often think we have forgotten the purpose of education. Legislators have been convinced by “Education Reformers” that raising the standards will make our country competitive again in national tests and the rankings that follow. States, school districts and teachers have gotten caught up in attempting to teach the numerous standards each year. Many of us fail to cover it all. The argument made has been: “We don’t want Mary Poppins teachers”, you know those who teach a few of their favorite things. “We want to know that all students have the same educational foundation”, often called guaranteed and viable. Other education educational buzz words often used to describe new curriculum are rigorous and relevant.

When reading about the new CCSS non-educators often feel it is a needed change, especially with all the negative press education has received lately. Many educators have spoken out against the CCSS, arguing that it is a sign of corporate take over to education and takes away from the arts, leaving education  dry and  scripted. Really lost in all of this banter is the TRUE purpose of education.

Is education supposed to:

  • Guarantee that individuals know curriculum?
  • Create employable students?
  • Enable students to be college ready?
  • Solve a quadratic equation?
  • Create a graph?
  • Use the scientific method?
  • Speak a foreign language?
  • Create an App?
  • Write a song?
  • Paint a Masterpiece?
  • Build a house?

The answer is simple yet lost in all of the discussion about education lately. Education is for ONE thing and ONE thing only. Since the dawn of time education has been about LEARNING to LEARN. Once this process is completed we can do all of the above if we so desire.

Think about it: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Wozinak did not follow a “Common Curriculum” on their paths to greatness. Mozart, Picasso, and Jackson Pollock would have never created such wonderful works if their learning bound by a “common” content.

Schools need to become a place where students learn the basic skills. Then they are allowed to  explore topics pushing their teachers to help them. This is the discovery that four and five year-olds have, the endless questioning and excitement. You know the ones parents get tired of and answer with BECAUSE!   Schools should not be on clocks, expecting everyone to discover their path by 18. Some get to the road much quicker and others might like to wander in the woods for awhile.

A teacher will know they have done their job when their pupils finds answers to their questions without assistance.

Remember schools can’t teach all the skills needed for employment. Too many jobs and skill sets are changing too fast. I went to high school in the 1980’s: No internet and few computers. Look at me now writing a blog!! Once we know how to learn we can do anything we desire!

Let’s return education to its true purpose: TEACHING how to LEARN!!

Michigan Council of Teachers of English 2013 Presentation

On Friday Oct 5, 2013 I will be co-presenter at MCTE Conference. I feel luck to have collaborated with my partner Kattie Hogan in linking science and literacy.  Our project was just the beginning of fusing science instruction with a focus on literacy skills. Our goal is to create independent collaborate learners. Not there yet but work towards it every day. Below is the Presentation:

#mschat Guest Host for Sept. 6, 2012

I am a “live in the moment” type of person. I don’t wear a watch and rarely look at a calendar. So when I planned on starting up #mschat in July I did not have the foresight to notice that the 4th chat would coincide with School Open House. Can’t miss the opportunity to meet with parents and work on that all important connections. I also don’t want to abandon #mschat group that is growing and creating a great PLN. A friend has volunteered his expertise to our chat for Sept 6th. Ben Curran of Engaging Educators will moderate this week, leading the discussion on the topic of Common Core State Standards and how it impacts us in the middle school. I will be joining in from my cell as soon as the open house is over.