Public school will always exist and it works great for 60% of the youth who like learning the same thing at the same time every day and in a crowded social space. The main purpose of public school is to equip the youth with basic knowledge so they have enough competence to be the main floor workers in social service businesses; not to be the leaders, not to be the innovators, not to be specialists in their talents/gifts, but to be the stockers, clerks, maintenance crew and kitchen cooks. NOW-THOSE jobs are important skills and CAN BE the foundational skills of a huge business of their own. For example, the stocker could become a warehouse owner, the clerk could become a bookkeeper or tax consultant, the maintenance could own a huge business of that need, and the cooks can become chefs of high demand and own their own restaurants. That higher level of expertise, however, is not allowed to be studied officially in lower levels of public education. Only in college are you allowed to publicly pursue the higher level. The leaders of public education own and control the timing and exposure of those levels. They have this format of further stretching out the process, of making the reach harder and higher by adding ”review” subjects of more math and language courses the first 2 years of college that are time wasting and profit earning. That’s the way it is and probably always will be. High school begins this waste of time and money format by requiring ”college ready” courses in math and language that are also unnecessary in the whole of the picture. I claim that ground floor specialist training can begin as early as at least the seventh grade. In a fifth-grade boys class I taught for 2 days in November I asked the boys if they knew their talents/gifts. I was surprised and happy to hear kids talk about serious cooking, building, music, and art. So the meaning of this writing is to make two main points. 1. Public school is teaching our children for the main purpose of keeping the existing businesses alive with more bodies to show up and do the low-level stuff. That’s ok but not the only range possible in reality. 2. Parents awareness is needed to help their children realize their gifts and for parents to provide materials, tools, and opportunities for their children to grow to higher levels in those talents/gifts.
Fact: Apprenticeship programs should be, must be developed for students who everyone knows, and even they know, will not be going to college. This is NOT restricted to special ed students–which, by the way, is not a totally honest business in itself, but that is another story down the road. Apprenticeships should be available for carpentry, electrician, plumbing, mechanics, cooking, maintenance, medical aid, agricultural work, and probably some more but that’s a lot right there. I would even add computer work because a lot of students in high school, maybe even lower grades, can move ahead beyond the limited levels high school currently offers. Apprenticeships have 2 purposes, in my opinion. One is to start setting a high school, and possibly junior high school student into the environment of their gift or at least in the direction of a job they can have a great chance of being independent and socially constructive in. The second reason is to allow the advanced students, who have no interest in nor the financial means ever to get into college, to have an outlet of connecting to the real world job market for them to be independent and socially constructive in. I DO remember in my high school when at 1 o’clock every day certain “apprenticeship” students left for their special classes. These kids were always considered not too bright by the rest of us who could handle the mental strain of the boring classes they left us behind in. Only later did I understand that THEY were the lucky ones being prepared for the real world jobs. THEY would be the ones I would pay hundreds of dollars for their services to keep my life stress free. THEY were really the bright ones while we classroom sitters were the less bright of the bunch. So, what do you do, parent, if your school does not offer any apprenticeship opportunities for your child? Connect with people who have a business matching the gift of your child. Ask for opportunities and even offer to cover any financial expense to make it happen. Let the adventure begin because the public school offers very little adventure in learning the real work skills in the world.
via WORKING WITH PARENTS My attitude toward every parent whose child I taught was and still is this: I always told them, ” I work for you first. This is your child who spends a greater part of daylight with me. I work for the school second. Call, email or text me for any question you have about your child’s work and experiences in school that I can help with. If I do something you consider wrong, or if I anger you in any way, feel free to let me know. You can vent on me, if you want, and we can sort it out. If I am wrong, I will apologize and set things right. We both care about your child and I want you to know I respect you as a parent and it is your right to be a part of what I do for your child.” This is why I have always had a great relationship with the parents. They knew I respected them, considered them very important to my work. This made them also feel empowered to care more for their kid’s work. YES, I have been told a few things from parents and I have apologized rightly so, and I have a couple of friendships as a result. In IEP meetings I steered away from legal jargon and spoke with usual language about goals and objectives and placement and all that stuff. I chose to respect their point of view for meetings–” Just tell me in plain language what is going on and where we go from here. I can’t stay awake for the special vocabulary you folks use in your profession. Thank you very much.” Just wanted to share that.
The saddest thing about the education career I have worked in for 22 years is that, according to most mainstream opinion outside of every school building, we never get it right. We are always pressured to look for new curriculums, give more tests, hold teachers for accountability, having to accept the physical and emotional results of very bad and sometimes abusive parenting and then be told we are the reason the kids don’t learn. The teachers today are scared of not looking right on paper for the saving fate of the school, to be sure we are not responsible for messing up the way a test is given, the way a specialized curriculum tells us to teach, or how we handle a violent kid who has no rules on what they can’t do for our protection. But it’s common to see most of the kids accept us for who we are in most cases. Most kids love us. They don’t complain and say we’re not trying to teach them. They all know the game very well. There are three groups of kids; One group loves to learn and takes pride in it no matter how crazy and nutty some of the curriculums are. One group decides what they want to know and when they want to know it, and if they even want to care about it at all, preferring to be a clown, a troublemaker, a sleeper, whatever. One group really has trouble getting it down, trying to understand but can’t push against the wall of not enough time, or not enough practical real life and hands-on projects to get what it all means, so they get labeled and shifted down the hall. They know what that label and that class down the hall means; the same thing everywhere you go–that it’s the kid and not the system that is out of balance. The label sticks all the way through grade school and junior high and high school–no matter what people say—it sticks for 90 to 95% of the kids labeled. But I’m telling you it is mostly the system, and sometimes a teacher who can’t or won’t handle the fact that it’s ok for one or more kids to stay in the regular ed room, even if they won’t get higher than a D. The teacher can change that. I’ve done it lots of times–changing the way I grade and what I grade and what I give for assignments based on abilities. I have to add that I’ve never had a load of higher than 11 kids in the special ed classes I have taught. And if I had a class of 20 or more, I could still do it until I was told not to which has happened before even with only a handful of kids. I think my main purpose and audience for writing this is not the families with the kids who can and want to learn the stuff in the schools, who can handle the books and worksheets and tests that dominate 90% of the lessons given. It is for the rest of you. Go easy on your kids if they can’t get it because it is only 20% of their challenge and 80% of the way the system works. And please go easy on the teachers a bit. Yes, there are some who don’t listen to the parents, who think they are dukes and duchesses of a castle whose authority reigns over your home. But most of the teachers really do care and really do try to work the best they can through the pressures of outside groups and government who don’t know what it is really like to teach under control of a crippled and out of date system. I am a great teacher, so I’ve been told by many, and I say it is because of the great teachers I had and recognized while they were teaching me. I always said to myself as I struggled through 5 years of college to be a teacher. ” THAT teacher is who I want to be like.” And I worked at it. I love to teach. I understand it very well. I know that most of our teachers everywhere do not deserve the public and government verbal and legislative beatings we have to take. In my opinion.
There is an interesting difference between restaurants advertising new foods and public education’s announcements of “improvements”, in my opinion. We all know the newest hamburger, hotdog, pizza, steak, etc is still the same meat and dough foundation. It’s just pumped up with new spice, new sauce, new shape, new box with a new toy, etc. And in THOSE cases we DO get a change of results: new flavors ( or older ones that were discontinued and now revived), and even some new visual experiences.
In public education, there is also a sales department. Education is definitely a business too often over and above it’s designated purpose, in my opinion. Their “improved upon” words are ‘redesigned’, ‘new paradigms’, ‘research-driven’, ‘cross content facilitation’, ‘college and career ready’, ‘future proofing’,’ neuroscience’, ‘real world’, ‘project based’, ‘inquiry-based’, ‘disruptive technology’, and more. Even I bought into this brainwashing jargon and fluff in my career in teaching. In this case, we all know that facts and figures and processes are the foundation of all learning. The RESULTS of most of the new hypes and cons, however, are the same as was done in the past in education; the same or more drop out rates, the same or more uneducated kids for reading and math, etc. No new flavors, no new visually enhancing experiences beyond a new cover for the ‘newly designed’ textbooks. That’s why all the screaming and blaming teachers and school staff etc. for all the problems that the system and lousy parenting create.
The last thing is what happens to the stuff being replaced by the great new brain-saving curriculums.
If you saw what I’ve seen in the area of “old” curriculum being replaced by “new” curriculum, you’d have the same fits I’ve had, very much resembling the facial, physical and emotional expressions of comedian Lewis Black.
Before I tell you what it looks like, let me say here that this travesty is mostly forced upon schools by the pressure of outside government judgments based upon paper scores from tests that have been proven many times over to be faulty and non-related to real life purpose education.
Now, here is what it looks like. I work in the morning cafeteria duty, helping watch over the kids and cleaning up before classes begin. I take out the trash, too. One morning years ago I opened the dumpster and saw 50 or more textbooks laying in the dumpster at varied angles. I freaked. I found the maintenance man, asked questions, gathered up as many of the remaining textbooks I could find and put them under tables in my room for their first phase of being saved. I know of one other teacher who did the same. There might have been more teachers involved. These textbook were wonderful with amazing stories and artwork of the highest level. This happens to every subject textbook related to any past curriculum. NOW–I DO UNDERSTAND–why restaurants must throw out old food. IT MOLDS. Textbooks do not mold unless you throw them into moist dirty dumpsters. And NO THE BOOKS WERE NOT TORN, CREASED, WRINKLED etc. Sharing all this because everyone needs to understand some realities that make up the world of education.
During the summer time you can keep your child up to date and even beyond what they did in school by taking some time every day, every other day, or every 3 days; some sort of consistent time frame weekly, and having them do a little reading, math and writing with you. Not a lot. Even writing one short sentence, doing a one–word math challenge, and reading anything at all—like the cereal box–or a short kid book with pictures; all of this keeps the flow of learning steady. There is a greater value to doing this at home or during a trip or while on vacation because the learning is worked on in a real world context instead of the lab building of regular school. Just a thought to share. The more your kid knows what and how to do reading and math and writing, at least those three, the more value their lives will have for their successes further on in life. Have a great summer. 🙂
If you want to know what your children truly understand about math at this point in their lives, ask them why numbers are important, why they exist, what do we use them for. They show understanding when they can say “we use numbers for….”; counting to keep track, time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years), distance, forces of pressure, sizes, building, coding language, measuring height, width, depth, weights, amounts, temperature, location and identification in phone numbers and addresses. At least those.