I got to thinking about the upcoming school year and how I would adjust my teaching methods to improve student learning and wondered about a whole slew of things. I started to think about all the brilliant people in the world. Not just the classic scientist types but the creative minds in music and the arts, engineering and construction, medicine and even things like interior design and cosmetics. I was thinking about all of the people who are really good at what they do and I wondered how they found it.
Then I decided that they probably found their passion and uncovered their ability in spite of public education. I know I certainly didn't. I continue to lament the things I wrote in school that I took a chance on. You know, creative pieces that went beyond the assignment and took real effort. Then it made me sad because most of those were returned to me as "incomplete," "off topic," or "did not meet standard." What horrible words. In my class I try to reward effort, creativity and passion, but I fear this is not the case in most of the education world.
No. In education we focus on standards, benchmarks, tests and rubrics. Tools, we tell ourselves, that will improve student learning. Perhaps. But how does a student find his passion if he cannot stray beyond the preconceived standard? Does he have room to explore? Or is he a slave to "direct instruction model," like we have adopted on our campus? Will he love to learn or hate the worksheet, drills and endless measuring he must endure? Will school enhance his life or handicap him?
I would like to see a learning environment where students were encouraged to explore a variety of subjects in multiple ways in order to discover the God given talents and abilities and then, along with a passionate teacher, develop as a whole person and not just another test taker, another seat filler, another number in the expansive sea of faces. Can I do this in my classroom, or will I be written up for not putting daily objectives on the board, using direct instruction model and preparing my students for bench marks? I'm afraid.
Just some thoughts.