I heard from one of our science teachers that this video is making the rounds with our 8th graders.
I’ve already watched it several times, and I think it is a good conversation to have.
I like that the kids are thinking about their education. Too many times I have seen students just swallow what is being fed to them hook, line, and sinker. I have given them opportunities to think critically about things like standardized tests, but very often they just think it is fine. Even moreso if they do well on them. They are quick to defend the tests as showing real learning.
They’ve learned how to “do school.”
A couple of years ago I had students that would not think at all about their education, and would not do anything more than was completely necessary. Their creativity was non-existent in my classroom, even those who were in Portfolio Art. They didn’t see the reason to “perform” their art in my class, even when given ample opportunities.
It was depressing.
So knowing that kids in my school, perhaps some of my own students, were watching and (hopefully) thinking about what was being said here was not threatening to me at all. In fact, I found it uplifting.
We do need to make education more relevant to today’s world. And to extend that, to the world we cannot even envision at this time.
But a lot has to happen. First, we as a people have to come to a firm conclusion on the purpose of education. Right now, it all has to do with economics. If we continue to believe that is the only reason to be educated — to get a job and feed the economy — then nothing will change.
We have to get rid of standardized testing as a means for measuring. It is too limiting. Period. There are reasons outside of the students themselves on why they do well or poorly on those tests. Get rid of them. And I am going to step out here and say that goes for ACT and SAT as well. Get rid of them all.
Of course, if we redefine education in the right direction, this would be a natural extension. We would no longer think multiple choice is a worthy option.
I read today in the New York Times that Steve Jobs’ widow is working toward funding innovative high schools. Her foundation is seeking ideas to revision and redefine high school. There is a debate on whether these could be public high schools, or would have to be charters. I would like to think that we truly could transform public education to be the leaders in the world of education.
I am down to about the last ten years of my teaching. I think there are hundreds of great ideas we have not even tried yet. It is an exciting time to be in education. The students I have this year are more willing to be creative again and think in new ways. I find this to be a great sign.
We are headed in the right direction — and I think perhaps the kids will begin to lead the way. If they are starting to take charge of their education instead of just buying what is being sold, our job is to listen and see how we can support them.
And no, I do not believe anyone should drop out of school. I think what the young man in the video really wants is for school to drop the facade and become something authentic and real. And that I can get behind 100%.