Some folks are always complaining about something. Lately, I’ve heard much ado about our public schools and their lack of success. What IS the mission of the public school system?
The overall consensus is the success of our students is the general mission of school, but how are we defining success? Is it success to memorize the information dished out by programmed teachers taught to deny the individuality of students only to regurgitate that same information on standardized tests? Our teachers must “teach to the test” in order to get passable numbers when students take these standardized tests so the schools can receive government funding. If the school’s numbers do not reveal “success” in the numbers, their funding is decreased.
The whole system is bassackwards! Students are not inspired to learn, but rather they are used as pawns in the numbers game. Teachers are not rewarded for teaching, but for repetitious review of the test points in their subject area.
Since the early 1980’s, the education community has been aware that all students are NOT created equal. On the contrary, each student is unique with individual skills and abilities – multiple intelligences, as Howard Gardner called them. The powerful NEA supports this information, yet has made no allowances, no strides in teaching pedagogy to reflect their acknowledgement of multiple intelligences. The result is that a few, those with linguistic and mathematical intelligences, are catered to with the curriculum and pedagogy, while those strong in the other 7+ areas of intelligence are all but ignored and left to flounder. Often these students are ridiculed and harassed by students and teachers for their “lack of performance.”
Bullying is a big issue these days, but my observation is that bullying starts at the top with our teachers. It only takes one irresponsible teacher to harass a student and other students will quickly latch on and carry on the ridicule. Presently, there is no trustworthy “policing” of teachers. Instead, once they are tenured, it is virtually impossible to discipline a teacher unless a felony is committed.
I taught high school for nearly a decade in the 90’s. The power and realm of influence of the NEA could accomplish great things for the children of America if so inclined. Rather, they choose to wield their power in the political arena, protecting the system’s status quo. Until students are recognized as uniquely gifted individuals and treated as such, bullying will flourish and “success” will rest on the numbers game called “Teaching to the Test.”