I have several discussions with my son who is 12 and in 6th grade about his education. One of our conversations involved me describing the difference between an warm and cold front and the rain that comes with it. I learned it as a Sophomore in college in my meteorology class. My son looked at me and explained the difference in his own way (which was spot on correct) and let me know he learned that in 4th grade while on a computer. I was amazed! My son and his generation has access to so much more than we had. I realized that high schools are very slow to pick up on these types of learning situations. We end up boring our students to death at the high school level because we are not teaching relevant things to them. We aren't even teaching relevant things to live life. So why can’t we identify a student's craft or interest and grow them using that? Sir Ken Robinson’s highest watched youtube video ever (view it here) has said this all along. Student centered learning is what works. Why are so many people in the world watching this yet not many of us are actually experimenting in education to DO it?
A recent movement of Naperville North High School is rising from a student essay to their board regarding why students are stressed out. Reading the article, there is only some discussion of students schedules and curriculum. There is mostly mention of social emotional learning and how to get students to deal with pressure. You can read the Change.org petition here.
"WHY do we teach all these subjects and make EVERYONE strive for the same thing in education?"
To me, this letter asks WHY are you making us learn subjects that are not relevant to us and reality? Change in my current school is painfully slow. I’m not sure why. Please comment if you have an idea. This letter from the students represents a deeper issue in the way we teach students in our schools. We just keep going down the same path. Change is hard. We need administrators and educational leaders to work harder and change things. While dealing with pressure and social emotional learning is crucial to any learning or professional situation, I believe there is a huge piece being left out. That piece is evident by the students. It is the WHY do we teach all these subjects and make EVERYONE strive for the same thing in education? WHY!?
"I just want everybody to ask themselves if you thought your high school education really taught you a lot of relevant things in your life."
I always read the comments to articles about students in Naperville (story here). I find that there is no middle ground in people's views. There are those who accept that education is bad and needs to be reformed. There are the old fashioned “suck it up you weak students.” types as well. I just want everybody to ask themselves if you thought your high school education was really taught you a lot of relevant things in your life. My high school learning really sucked. I hated it. I didn’t relate to it. I slept in class. I knew how to play the game and breezed by without really learning or being passionate about anything. Students today are being forced into the Advanced Placement box. They are studying harder than you or I did. Not to say the AP box is bad for all students, but it only relates to a minority of students. Here’s the kicker, should they choose college, they are going to go into debt. Big debt. They know this. They are questioning their learning. They are voicing their opinions. Those who reject them and call them weak are not actually getting the whole picture. How hard is it to change something? Let me rephrase that… How difficult is it to stand up against a dinosaur of an education system and speak out against it in order to start reform… as a teenager. Who is the weak one now?