As a public school teacher we are placed under a lot of pressure to provide an education for our students, and rightly so. That is why I choose that career and have persevered doing it for over a decade. Unfortunately it gets tougher every year to stay with it. Do not get me wrong, I love being a teacher, getting my students to think for themselves, care about the subject I teach, and go forth looking to further their education. So why, from time to time, do I think about giving up my room key and start looking for a different career? It is because every year it seems like I become less of an educator and more just a school teacher.
You might be thinking that an educator and a school teacher are the same thing, but I do not see it that way. To me school is just a building, a place where young folks go and spend some time. School is just something that you had to do. Education on the other hand is something that lasts a lifetime, and an educator teaches students to develop those skills to make learning a lifetime passion. Regrettably education has taken a backseat to schooling as an over reliance on standardized testing and teaching to those tests have taken the place of self-discovery, debate, and enjoyment of the educational process.
If the majority of the school day is spent reviewing standards and test taking strategies to pass those standards then school just becomes a place to spend time. In a lot of ways school is like prison, students buy their time in hopefully with good behavior and good work, pass some test to show they can be a productive member of society, and go on their way. The idea of developing a life-long education is lost and thus students will fall farther behind their global peers because education becomes less of something that we want and more of something that we just have to do.
I urge you to go out and see what is going on in your local schools, ask your children, nieces and nephews, or other kids you know, see what they learning. Ask them all how often they work on test taking skills, or spend time doing math and reading but miss out on science and history. Are they working on self-discovery of material or is just standard after standard? Are they learning to work in groups, debate, finding their own solutions to problems, learning to think quickly to overcome obstacles skills that will help them in whatever career path they chose or are they just able to answer questions from a test?
To see my other musings about education in the United States click here
picture via http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/colleges/educatio/media/soe-home.jpg (lol assessment driven all teachers are we have to be)