Sunday, February 15, 2015

Without democracy, our economy will destroy public education

What is the purpose of school?

If we want to improve school, this is a question we need to ask more often.

When progressives propose that we move beyond traditional schooling, some people are skeptical and some people are cynical. 

Here's the difference:

The skeptic: "Don't we need testsandgrades to prepare children for the future?"

The cynic: "Don't we need testsandgrades to prepare children for the future!"

Sometimes the difference is subtle but these are two very different reactions. We need skeptics to ask questions and challenge change as much as the status quo. 

We don't need cynics. Cynics hold us all back and stifle progress because they can't differentiate between the (a) status quo, (b) change for the sake of change and (c) improvement. The good, the bad and the ugly are all the same to a cynic.

The other day I was having a conversation with someone who told me that he has 3 businesses, two of which are doing well, while the third was losing him money. He is concerned that progressive education that moves beyond testsandgrades won't produce employees that can produce him profits.

I fumbled through a response that left me thinking about how I could have better responded. Here's what I wish I had said:

Firstly, in school the process is the point and in work the product is the point. Children don't go to school to work -- they go to school to learn.

Ultimately, I didn't become a teacher so that I could create employees that can make other people money. I became a teacher so that I could inspire children to become democratic citizens who participate in our democracy in a way that makes our world better, which includes becoming ethical and profitable employees and employers in our economy.

The fate of our democracy is dependent on public education, and without democracy, our economy will destroy public education.

1 comment:

  1. Joe, I couldn't agree with you more! Currently the testing cycle has swung so far, it makes my head spin. It actually hampers cohesive and creative study on any level. You can not create depth in thinking without an ability to return to the discussion and the investigation over and over again. But it seems just when we're in the heart of the process and progressing well, it's time to cart them off to the computer lab to be assessed we can adequately evaluate, of all things, not the student, but the teacher's progress with the class. Lots of loose threads here, hoping the pendulum will begin to shift back into the reality range!
    Here in the States parents clamor about the rigorous state standards. Any creative teacher can create a process that is creative, active and forces kids to think (as we all know we desperately need in a democracy) using the standards as a guidepost. I do wish they'd start to look at the amount of interruption is created by over-testing. It's the frustration of every teacher I know!


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