“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I know, without a doubt, that years after being in my class that my students don’t remember the themes of the novels I so diligently taught. They don’t remember the exact words of the comments I wrote obsessively in purple pen all over their essays. But I know they remember feeling like my class was more than just reading and writing some words.
Education in this country has become obsessed with trying to quantify learning. But learning is not an a+b=c kind of endeavor. The answer is not a formula to be derived.
The PARCC test has been heralded as being able to determine if a child is on the track to career and college readiness in as early as the third grade. This test, though abandoned by many states, is driving education in the state of NJ and a few other states late to the discovery that it is actually a poorly designed assessment.
Elementary curriculum continues to be narrowed (since NCLB) to focus solely on reading and math. Math is being narrowed to focus on one methodology of teaching (whether it is right or wrong is not the point). Reading is being narrowed by a focus on informational texts (despite cuts to time spent on history and science) and by an obsession with technology (to simulate the test, students are assigned keyboarding practice and shown video clips daily in lieu of being read to by their teachers).
These shifts may seem minor to the untrained eye, or even a sign of the times where the digital age now rules. But, this cannot be further from the truth.
If all we teach our children in school is to do math a specific way, read certain types of texts and answer certain types of questions, and a handful of technology “skills” like drag and drop, scroll and how to type quickly, then that is what our children will learn. If we drill these things hard enough and long enough, then test them on it….they will pass with flying colors. The problem is that we will be patting ourselves on the back with the same hand that has robbed a generation of a true education.
Training is not education.
Education is imitation borne of admiration.
Education is exploration.
Kids doing archaeology in the backyard to find buried objects.
Kids exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art after learning about Ancient Egypt.
Education is experience and explanation.
Kids learning about irrigation from a friend who is a farmer.
Learning about evolution from his Daddy, who is a physician.
Education is hands-on and often messy.
Education is best shared with a smile.
When we teach children, we are teaching much more than how to read or write or compute.
We are teaching them how to think, to live, and to love…
Or else we are teaching them not to.