This week’s readings reminded me of the value of teachers/educators, something that is often forgotten in today’s world. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have a mother who was an elementary and middle school teacher, so I witnessed second-hand many of the issues a modern teacher faces.
As Ken Robinson eloquently points out in his TED talk, teachers are “facilitators of learning”, rather than figures who simply deliver information to their students. This is a creative career, rather than a business-oriented one. It’s a career that requires teachers to “awaken the power” of their student’s creativity and empower them to learn and find their passion. But now, teachers often feel pressure from their administration to act and dress professionally– which, in my opinion, creates a further divide between teachers and students.
Robinson mentions that people are organic creatures. We are naturally diverse and unique. So, rather than focusing on standardized testing and conformity, why not shift our focus to educational systems that are personalized, offer strong support, provide diverse curriculums, and attract students from all backgrounds? In conversations with my mom, she always mentioned how she observed a shift in her students learning habits after standardized testing became the norm. Rather than mindfully learning, students began mindlessly reciting information that they expected to be on the next test.
Other countries greatly value professional development, put less focus on standardized testing, and hold educators in high esteem. Why is that not the case here? I’m sure this question has a very convoluted answer, and I am excited to learn more about America’s educational system and where it can be improved.
Not completely on topic with this week’s readings, but here’s something to keep in mind about Robinson’s TED talk: this was filmed in 2013, when No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was the standard, before Common Core Curriculum Standards (CCCS) became alive. Now, both ideas have merit, and both have many issues. For NCLB, the federal government did not give states enough financial support to make it as successful as it could have been. States began adopting CCCS because it had uniformity across state lines, but unfortunately had a huge focus on Standardized Testing. New Jersey, where my mom taught for a decade before her (welcoming) retirement, was one of the first states to jump on the bandwagon of CCCS. They expected their teachers, in a single year, to implement CCCS without proper transition time or training. It was pretty outrageous, IMO.
There are pros and cons to all educational approaches, NCLB and CCCS included. Who knows what will happen in terms of education with the new administration. More than likely they will try to fix everything including things that are not broken. Time will tell!