I saw an article written by Jenny Brown, about a teacher in New Jersey, Chandhi Langford.
Before Langford’s students arrived to write a test, she wrote special messages on each of their desks, because she understands that writing tests can be scary and hard for our self-esteem.
Remember, there is no elevator to success, you must take the stairs!
You got this!”
Learning is your super power! Remember, never stop trying,
and never stop growing your brain!”
I couldn’t help but feel inspired and hopeful by this teacher. She took that extra step in a system that she cannot change, and did her part to make a difference to her students.
I taught English as a second language in Italy, and as a single mom I witnessed my son’s experience all through his schooling, and of course I went myself all the way to an undergrad, and not to mention I have staff that came through the system as well.
Throughout all that, I have often wondered about our school system and if it’s still serving it’s purpose. Things have changed so much in our society, but the school system has remained pretty static.
Please know this is not to criticize those IN the system but rather the system itself. And I am not even sure criticism is the right word either. Our education is a HUGE ship to turn with customs and traditions, with voices and input from so many parties – politicians, teachers, students, parents, media, workforce, and I am sure there are more.
Are our schools serving us? Are they preparing us for the “real” world? I had an employee who was really making a mess of his job – not showing up on time, taking longer lunches than everyone else, complaining etc. I spoke with him several times but nothing changed, so I fired him. His response to me was “You can’t fire me, it will hurt my self-esteem.” I responded with “you should have thought about that before messing with my company’s reputation.”
I have thought about that statement a lot over the years (quite possibly more than he has!), and wonder about the disconnect between ‘acceptable at school’ and ‘acceptable at work’.
So what is the alternative? Is there another way? I have thought of an alternative… is it viable? I am not sure but here is it:
School goes year round…
life doesn’t stop for the summer, so nor should school
With many two income families, what to do with kids during the summer becomes an issue
If parents want to take kids on holidays they can book time off, notify the school and pick up when they get back
School is divided up no longer by grades but by levels. 12 levels of English, 12 of math maybe 9 of French, 4 of mechanics etc.
When a student finishes a level, they move to the next level so they could be in level 4 math but level 3 English. To think we learn all subjects at the same rate is ludicrous. A student doesn’t go to another level until the material is learned. It’s not failing it’s just waiting until they succeed
Multiple teachers teach each level as they will have their preferred teaching methods and can appeal to different students based on their learning styles.
Teachers could incorporate more ‘theme’ based learning. Pick a culture and read books and do reports about that resulting in them going to tech class and doing a video on the same subject… the fluidity is endless.
Students would still get to learn that their results are based on their efforts, pressure is off the parents for holidays and the challenges that come with that, space for targeted learning styles or themes become more accessible.
I am sure there is a LOT of tweaking to happen and people a lot smarter than me will have to come up with a working solution but it’s good to start somewhere and maybe just thinking about this and talking about it is the place to start?
If we keep putting band aids on the bullet holes then we will just eventually bleed out. Our children need a better system, they have outgrown ours.