I like how author Thom Markham (2015) writes, “For well over 150 years, education has been stuck in an endless wash cycle that alternates between a ‘hands-on, better citizenship, student-oriented’ and a ‘scientific, strict outcomes, measurable results’ approach to children’s learning.” I’m tired of being an over-used garment stuck inside this broken washing machine; I’m starting to become stained by so many new policies and ideas that never seem to take root, or simply lack real value in today’s society.
The problem with education in America today is that teachers are “under-empowered participants in a stagnant system designed to broadcast standardized information” (Markham, 2015). We need to shift the power from policymakers to teachers, and even students and parents. As stated by my friend and personal learning network member, Natalie Priester, “How [do] you fight the system while still being required to work within it and prepare kids for college,” or life, for that matter? It’s just too messy when the end-product has no real say in what, or how, they want to learn.
When I talk to my students who are graduating from college about whether or not they feel empowered to change the world, they laugh at me. But then I refocus the conversation and ask the question again. Most of the time the response is “not really.” But why not? After all, who is responsible for running the world? I mean, when you stop to think about it, almost everybody alive today will be dead in 100 years. Shouldn’t our youth feel empowered to pull the plug on this broken washing machine—that is their own education in America today—and replace it with a colorful, efficient, fun, innovative, universal and omnipresent machine that has no pre-established cycle or limitation to how many pieces or types of “garments” can be tossed inside?
I feel inspired! I want to be a piece to this collaborative puzzle that Markham describes as the “system that leads to ‘better’ people.” I am all-in; I will now continue to “redefine smart” by encouraging “evaluative thinking” in my classroom, and beyond. Whenever I hear an apathetic teacher curse the system, I’ll challenge them to join my network. Whenever I read an inspiring article or watch a motivating video that encourages reform, I will follow the author on Twitter (because we all know he or she will be plugged-in to a PLN). And most importantly, whenever I hear students complain about their “education,” I will challenge them to be part of the solution and not the problem.
Markham, T. (2015, February 11). Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education 'Story'. Retrieved June 20, 2015 from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/02/11/redefining-teachers-with-a-21st-century-education-story/