Photo by kconnors on Morgue File.
You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?
This is a topic I have considered in the past. Having risen through several ranks of academia myself, I am familiar with the system; especially at the higher levels of advancement. I have also taught as an adjunct professor at the college level. I also worked with a company that specialized, among other things, in reading development and comprehension skills. My wife is a school teacher. My mother was an administrative assistant at a school before retiring. My grandmother had the same job, then later worked at the county Board of Education.
Now, none of this makes me an expert on the theory of education. I admit that up front. There are certainly those out there with far more experience and knowledge than I. But, I have stayed close to several of my former professors and we do, from time to time, discuss such things. I also had a conversation with a professor of mine who had started a classical school. We discussed the differences between his school and a typical public school setting.
I think a classical approach is a good idea. The basics are important: writing, reading and arithmetic, the hallowed three R’s of education. I think languages should also be incorporated early on in a student’s academic life. Latin, Greek, Spanish . . . etc. would be a good introduction to, not only other languages, but cultures and ideas. I have studied my fair share of languages and what I have found is that the more I study another language, the more I learn about my own.
I would also want an emphasis on comprehension skills and deductive reasoning. An approach that would make reading exciting, where the students developed, not only their vocabulary and reading rate, but their ability to image what they are reading. This would lead to true comprehension and recall of information.
Perhaps, even more importantly, would be the approach to the professionals. I think teachers (that is good, capable teachers) should be some of the highest paid professionals in the country. Forget the celebs and athletes, why not give that money to those who are actually making a difference, to those who are actually doing something that benefits the present and the future. No, I am not against movies or sports; in fact, I enjoy both to a degree, but the difference in pay is embarrassing. Teachers, law enforcement and the like should be receiving far more pay, in my opinion.
I think there should be some safeguards in place too to ensure a teacher is a capable teacher. I know from my own experience that some teachers I had did not teach me much of anything. In fact, for some, it did not seem as if they cared one way or the other. I know tenure can be a good thing, but it is abused as well. I think those teachers which are putting forth an effort and seeing results should be compensated for that.
I do not have all the answers on this. I know some teachers toil tirelessly in difficult settings and do not see the overall results they would hope to see. Certainly, these factors should be taken into consideration.
As with most things, there are too many politics in education. If this fat could be cut away and basic principles observed, it would be a much more efficient enterprise.
I must say, for the most part, my educational experience was a positive one. The majority of my teachers worked hard and cared about their students. I am thankful for that.
I have a great appreciation for educators. I know their job is a hard one, and sometimes maybe even thankless. But, the work they do and the sacrifices they make are invaluable to our society and world.