Many educators have asked the following question, and now I will as well; how did we ever come to believe that the bureaucrats, in a government office, should tell our children what to think?
To challenge this belief, educators will have to become innovators and show students that there is more knowledge than just what is required to know for a test.
We need to realize that students can teach themselves far more superior than any teacher ever could. For most tasks, it much more important that the students “discover” the knowledge rather than being told of meaningless facts or algorithms. When we push or force certain ideas onto students we might be actually teaching them to hate the intended outcomes instead of learning it. For example, we can’t teach students to be creative but we sure can destroy creativity.
In its current paradigm, schools are producing compliant citizens who will have anticipated and controlled thoughts. Students who stand up and ask “why” are labelled as insubordinates or trouble makers, and most likely are put in an alternate learning environment. Those who follow all the rules given to them, complete school with the highest marks, and never question authority are not the learners we want in a country. When a practical problem presents itself, to these students, they will seem lost and confused.
“I’m 25 years old and have two college degrees. I don’t know how to do anything. I don’t know how to do anything at all. If the fan belt of my car broke in a snowstorm out in country I’d freeze to death reciting the goddamn Pythagorean theorem” – Student who spoke up at a John Gatto speech.
The reason this is happening is due largely to the fact that the student, who has the highest marks, is usually learning information that another person deems necessary. This information does not come in small controllable chunks but actually in large (sometimes in the 1000s) specific outcomes a teacher must cover. To assure students achieve success, we must also assign work to be completed outside of school, so that these high end students don’t have a minute to explore anything they may have a passion or interest for.
Students are leaving our schools with their curiosity destroyed. Anytime they wanted to explore an idea further, they are reminded, by the leader of the class, that this is neither the time nor place to do so. Also, don’t forget the mass amounts of work to be completed outside of school; we should be asking “When is the appropriate time and place?”
We need to start realizing that our focus should be on passions, interests, creativity, and curiosity; if there is time after…..then we can focus on the mandated outcomes.