Defining the Future of Education
What should be the goals of an elementary education within an increasingly diverse population? The simple and obvious answer is that an educational institution should be a place for individuals to learn. The job of the teacher is to issue facts, share methods in which the facts can be learned and model consistent and appropriate behavior. Such behavior should consist of modeling appropriate presentation, cleanliness, respect, methodology, etc. Such a question is bound to raise many arguments by teachers and the answer will raise many arguments by students. Most of our children, especially grades K-5, are not receiving the simple and obvious answer noted above; they are receiving mediocre teaching skills by teachers who are bitterly under-paid, over burdened, and often not credentialed.
Mike Rose's, "Lives on the Boundary" (1989), expresses similar views that appear to be quite complex but are attainable. Rose expresses the tremendous need for embracing the purpose of education. He describes several individuals who developed both the social and cognitive ability to step outside the strict confines of tradition and pursue their individual dreams. Rose gives hope and confidence that it is not the students, who are failing, it is the educational system that is failing the students, and particularly those who are ill prepared and lack resources. More often than not, the ability to visualize our potential is lost in what should be rather than what is. Education needs to be seen as a wonderful experience. The content of any curriculum should emphasize the process rather than the product and the joy that can be achieved by struggling together. Struggling together is simply an extension of what we encounter after our years in school. America and the rest of the world is not static, we are a dynamic and diverse people who are becoming closer and closer as we indulge in the highly technological world.
Children do not enter into Kindergarten as blank states as some psychologists would have you think. Many children have been predisposed to many opinions, facts, and cultural experiences that make them unique. Too often, policy-makers assume that when a child enters kindergarten, he or she is starting fresh and the "molding" process can begin. Teachers have the power to change such primitive thought as Mike Rose eloquently professes throughout his book. The idea of individuality and diversity needs to be honored and respected. Trying desperately to fit into the "mold" is stifling too many children. While some children persevere with the challenge, others sink into a dismal outlook of their future, far before they enter fifth grade. I vividly remember my elementary school teachers. The early grades were tremendously comforting, however, when placed in classes where lecture was preferred over discovery, I graciously fell behind. I remember desperately needing to see or touch the topics that were being presented....