Common Pits of education. By David Reid Otey 9-2014

Common Core education is the current life saver attempt for our country’s kids. Apples have cores. Then I thought–cherries have pits. There are a lot of pitfalls in education. Pitfalls that still didn’t stop our nation from producing the geniuses who developed the auto industry, the clothing mills, the medical, the legal and the psychological fields. Great laws have been written and passed by men and women educated by past curriculums full of pitfalls. Technology comes from great minds. For generations great minds sat in public education class rooms being taught by lesser minds using average curriculum. This not to say mediocrity is ok and should be accepted. I am pointing to the fact that the true energy, mindset, attitude, determination, creativity and desire to learn anything comes from within the student with the influence–positively or negatively driven–of family and friends and the overall environment of the community.

Now on my 21st year, I have been and still am a teacher of special education students. The pitfalls of public education that I see are the following.  Number one: Kids are made to learn sitting down most of the time.  Personally, I believe most people’s butts are made thicker to protect us when we fall down from wandering over rough terrain, as we investigate our world to discover and experiment with what we see. A professor of mine, Dr. Jani, told us that the process of learning comes in this formula to remember. MPCB: motor skills first, followed by perceptions followed by concepts leading finally to behaviors. He stated that poor exposure in either of the first two creates weakness and disabilities in the last two. The first creates the strength of the second and so on. I add to this the wonderful concept of multiple intelligences first sparked by Howard Gardner. Both ideas lead to how the best education process should be designed which is much more active than what we have been using for generations.

The second pitfall is creating confusion. I’ve told my students the following statement. ” You are very smart just as you are. You already know as much as what is written in five hundred books. You have been learning since the day you were born. Everything you’ve seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched and sensed inside of you has been stored into room type spaces in your brain. You never stop learning if you always stay aware.”  Then I tell them about what happens when they get to school. In school the knowledge they possess is broken down into little pieces they do not recognize. That confuses them and makes them feel ignorant and stupid. Then, if they cannot ”relearn” it to demonstrate it back to the teacher of confusion in the language and form they expect, the students feel like failures and begin to shut  down their natural inclination to be curious and wondering about anything. It becomes safer to simply accept the mind controlling toys to rest their brains upon.

The third pitfall is starving the brain. I have been fortunate in providing consistent food for my students throughout the day. They are allowed to eat during lessons in big group and during independent work times. They are allowed to eat mostly when they want to. I have fruits and vegetables and sometimes energy bars. They are better behaved and more focused because of that. I know and you know that every kid in every nation will eat all day during summer vacation to renew the energy of their wandering explorations. Their bodies burn food like crazy. Then during the school years they are fed only twice during a day instead of the four or more times they are used to. Food and education go together. I also believe that the more I tie food and learning together it is possible their brains stay engaged on thinking every time they sit down to eat.

I wrote this piece to say out loud: COMMON CORE NOR ANY OTHER SYSTEM WILL EVER BECOME THE MAIN  UTOPIAN BRAIN BUILDING TECHNIQUE AS LONG AS ANY SYSTEM MAINTAINS THE THREE PITFALLS ABOVE.      The end.

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