Saturday, April 10, 2010

Facing Reality

I'm struggling today. I struggle a lot, but today seems to be the Armageddon for me. I read a post by Andrew this morning that just completely summed up what has built up my anxiety more than anything else.

What in Heaven's name am I doing here?

My daughter is 8 years old, in the third grade and recently completed her first round of Reading and Math State Assessment Tests. Looking at education from a parenting perspective is in some ways quite a bit different than from a teacher perspective.

We all think our subject is the most important, mostly because we love it ourselves. Now that I have a child in the system, I can't help but wonder if we just are not doing it right.

What are we preparing our kids for? College? Apparently not. Tech school? Please. A job? Sure, if you want to work at McDonald's.

Before we "progressed" into this century, kids were sent to school to learn about the things they would encounter in real life. What happened there? Did it start innocently with a solid belief in a "well-rounded" education, only to turn into the monolith it is now? (Love that term, Andrew)

I have a student now who knows she wants to be a nurse. Every Wednesday, she goes to school, attends track practice and then she goes to CNA classes. She goes to class AFTER school. Why can't she get that same education AT SCHOOL? Why don't we offer CNA classes through the high school? This girl could get a job the day after she graduates from high school. Obviously, these classes are not considered too advanced for a high school student.*

I had a student a few years ago who was simply doing the time. His father was a plumber. He wanted to become a plumber. Yet he was forced to sit through four years of high school in order to be handed a piece of paper that meant nothing to him. I tried everything I could to teach him Chemistry, but knew in my heart of hearts (and also because he mentioned it) that he could care less about isotopes.

Not every student NEEDS to understand isotopes. Now, if you are going into radiology or probably even nursing, you darn well better pay attention because you will be working with this stuff, but on the whole, we are forcing this on kids who will never, ever use (or even remember) it.

At the beginning of this year, we spent a morning meeting talking about the Kansas Career Pipeline. Basically, kids take an interest inventory and are given a list of occupations that align with those interests. I think we have all done this. But according the the KCP, we are then supposed to counsel kids to take certain class and get them started down the path to their selected occupation. I was so excited. This is brilliant. This is what kids should be doing in school...preparing for a career.

And then, school started. Administrators should know that any idea, no matter how brilliant, introduced on the first day of the school year will get buried in the excitement and chaos of the first day of school. Especially something that requires you to more or less restructure your counseling office. And so another great opportunity was lost to reality.


*I really have no idea what criteria she had to meet in order to take the classes. I think I remember some other students talking about being 16 and passing an exam, but I am not sure what all it entails.

1 comment:

andrewbwatt.com said...

Hi Tracie,

I see you're blogging, but not as much as you used to in 2010. This post brought me a few visitors this week, and I figured I'd come over see what might have brought them over.

Six years since that April when I saw Death by PowerPoint, I've helped completely restructure that lesson at that school. We've changed curriculum, we've changed program... and I've helped lead the charge, largely by driving the idea that "there are other kinds of schools", and that my school can be one of those 'other kinds of schools'.

I hope that you've found some new excitement in your work and your world. If you visit my website sometime soon, and read over the recent archives, you'll find that you can reimagine what students do, and how to help them move into their chosen paths, in new ways.

All the best,
Andrew

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