After viewing Matt Damon's speech (and follow up interview), I was so thankful about the positive press surrounding the support of teachers... especially considering the amount of chatter that isn't always so positive regarding our pay and dedication. Sitting here on Sunday afternoon, my husband, Jason, and I engaged in some rather interesting conversation surrounding today's current economic state. Like most, we were concerned when our nation's credit rating was lowered. We've been wanting to watch Inside Job - so we did. Interesting enough, Matt Damon narrated this documentary.
This film got me thinking... who is to blame for our nation's financial crisis?
Then I began to think... who is to blame for our nation's educational crisis?
Is it the Teachers?
It only seems right that if students aren't performing well, it must be the ones directly teaching them, right?
If a bridge collapses, who is at fault?
- The ones that drive on it
- The ones that constructed it
- The ones who supplied/manufactured the faulty materials in which the bridge was constructed
What if you were given the assignment of teaching piano lessons... However, you are governed by the following:
- You have to use certain sheet music (not the materials in which you prefer)
- You have too many students to get to on a personal level
- Some of your students have handicaps yet you don't have tools to accommodate
- And most importantly... your success isn't going to be measured on how beautiful the students play the instrument nor how much growth they've made from the time they've entered the class but rather how well they perform on the standard sheet music exam
Honestly, ask yourself, how many hours will you:
- Spend on teaching how to read sheet music
- Spend on actually playing the piano
Some people (myself included) will argue that if you teach in an authentic fashion, the students will naturally perform well on whatever test is given to them. True. So, we don't have to teach test preparation and drill and kill methods 180 days a year - and we shouldn't test this way either!
So, how do we reach students when classes are overcrowded and students are at so many different levels? I believe technology is a tool that can help in this situation. Many have discussed new methodologies such as The Flipped Classroom where student's homework consists of viewing lectures at home so that the 'homework' becomes classwork where the teachers can facilitate a more hands-on model of instruction. Certain software companies have created Learning Management Systems that help to make this an easy transition.
I certainly do not believe that teachers are to blame. In fact, I believe teachers are the thread holding the system together. I do think that the system needs to change, though. Times have changed; however, much in our practice has not. In my opinion, teaching is evolving - and the field of education needs to catch up. Teachers are ready; they simply need the tools and the training to incorporate these new methods into their classrooms.
In closing, I pose a question: are we going to continue to prepare our students to become proficient at shading in bubbles, or are we going to prepare them to be able to use their resources, analyze information, think critically, and connect globally?
Erin Klein is a mother of two, a wife, and a teacher in Michigan. You can find her on Twitter @Mimadisonklein or read more of her writing on her blog, Kleinspiration. Like all guest posts, views expressed in this article belong to the author.
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