We adults were indoctrinated by this education system and have become productive members of society. Most of us have, anyway. However, the society in which we live today is dramatically different than the one we grew up in. In my lifetime, man has gone from landing on the moon a few months after my birth to the prospect of being able to take a joy ride into space, thanks to Richard Bronson (Virgin Galactic). We have gone from computers that were literally the size of rooms to ones that can fit into our pocket and gives us access to limitless information. Our society has changed. In just one generation, my generation, the world has become a place where geographical borders are non-existent in the eyes of the workplace and the definition of jobs are difficult to define because they change and are created faster than we can prepare our youth to fill them. Yet we continue to trudge through our school day in exactly the same way. Why?
Because it's all we know how to do? How hypocritical is it of us to demand that our children be prepared for jobs that do not yet exist yet we continue to teach in the same way? It has to stop. Our children deserve better. Our education system needs to change.
There are those of us who are trying to find a better way. The outside-of-the-box thinkers look for ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. The very technology that is interwoven into our children's lives, yet when they walk into our schools we tell them to put it away. Why? Technology is in the fabric of all that they will need to do to be successful in a world that is defined by that technology. The radical educators set aside standards that are disconnected from the real world in order to give students the opportunity to decide the focus of their education. It's a radical idea to take 20% of our school time to allow students to pursue their passion, research their ideas, formulate their own plan, and present their findings. The ground breakers among us work to reconstruct our classrooms by flipping, blending and using mastery learning to give students the opportunity to learn in a way that best fits them and personalizing each students' education. Mass production is an archaic mode of education and these ground breakers are creating a new way to educate our youth, one that meets their individual needs.
There are those of us who feel confined by the current system of evaluation by standardized test scores. Whether if be by fear or intimidation those test scores and standards paralyze us. Here's the pain I experience as an educator. I know that my students need to be given the opportunity to be creative and pursue their passions. However, I feel confined by the math standards I'm supposed to teach and be evaluated by to the point that I become fearful when thinking about setting them aside for even one minute to give my students the education I know they need to successful in an ever changing world. And I know I'm not alone.
When I hear the words of this young man I see his courage to speak out, to call attention to the unjust, archaic education system. A system that not only paralyzes our students but teachers as well. He has the courage to speak out. He has the courage to call for something different. Do I have the courage to respond? Do you?