A Smart Approach to Education
As an educator, my goal has always been to create genuine science experiences for my students and inspire a sense of independence within them. The future of our economy and our society will require a citizenry that is creative, highly adaptable, and self-reliant. As such, education needs to drastically change from the puritanical, German model of the late 1700's. Today, the same mode of instruction prevails in classrooms all across the country. Students sit, the teacher talks, worksheets and notes are taken, and finally, assessments and grades are assigned. This model was intended to indoctrinate and practice rote memorization of a narrow field of factual and biblical content, and not conducive to a free thinking, creative workforce. What we need today is a system that looks at how children learn best. We need a system that looks at how kids have learned for millennia, through play and experimentation.
The standardization of education has almost completely killed any innovative practices within the field. Through it, it makes several assumptions:
1. That teachers are incapable of making decisions that best suit their learners.
2. That all learner's cognitive abilities are more or less equivalent.
3. That all learner's needs are the same across the board.
However, educators are very much aware that none of the above is accurate. Kids aren't empty slates, ready to be filled. Every child has different needs, likes, desires. Every student comes from different life circumstances. While student A may come from a loving home, where parents reinforce good morals and learning habits, student B may come from a broken home, that doesn't place education in very high regard and hasn't taught their child the skills necessary to function in a traditional classroom setting. The needs and approaches used for both students in this scenario will be drastically different, yet the standardization of education ensures that teachers are unable to address each student's needs appropriately.
So, the question prevails, what are we to do as policy makers, to ensure that all learners have an opportunity to learn in a manner that suits their needs? The answer is quite simple. We need to get out of the way. We are a society based on the principals of liberty and freedom, and as such, we should have an education system that reflects those values. The very process of standardization is a direct affront to our founding principals, and worse, it stifles innovation within the classroom.
This is why I propose that we end the standardization process pushed by the Department of Education and NCLB, and dissolve the DoE entirely. Control over the minds of young American's should never be left in the hands of our politicians. Students in the inner city don't have the same needs as students in suburbia, and as such, it makes sense to allow those cities to address the needs of their learners as they see fit and give educators the freedom needed to innovate. The more local the control over education, the better and more adaptable it will be.