Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburgers!
There is no greater sacred cow in our society than our educational system.
Look at this picture of a classroom from the 19th century:
Now look at one from the 20th century:
Finally, compare to a typical 21st-century classroom:
What differences do you see between the three?
I would argue very little.
Compare this to a business, bank, production line, or hospital today, all of which have been transformed over the years.
At its core, the classroom today is little different from the classroom of the past, and that is the problem. In fact, there is lots of evidence that rather than improving, our classrooms continue to fall behind in meeting the needs of our children.
Simply put, many of our schools are obsolete.
For several centuries, the progression of a student from Kindergarten to graduation involved the study of the Three Rs – reading, writing, and arithmetic-at increasingly more difficult levels. This worked well when the need for an educated population was limited to producing a working population with just enough basic skills to see them through until retirement. College was for an elite few.
However, the modern economy demands more of its future workers, and not only are our schools failing to meet the challenge of providing a collection of 21st-century skills we call the 4th R, they are falling further and further behind in meeting their original charge of teaching to the 3Rs.
The 4th ‘R’
What is that new 4th R? It is, in fact, a collection of skills rather than just one that researchers now suggest are essential in the modern workplace: developing critical thinking skills; building problem solving skills, the ability to collaborate in a team, developing an understanding of at least one other language along with an appreciation of other cultures and peoples, developing interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and all wrapped up with the big bow of technology.
Instead, we are obsessed with filling in dots with a Number 2 pencil. Likely, our students are the best in the world at this task, while statistics show that they continue to flounder in comparison to their international peers.
Which one of you works in a business or industry that has changed so little in the last 100 years?
So what are we doing as a society to improve the situation for our children?
While some individual schools and systems shine; the vast majority are mired in mediocrity with policies and practices that will not meet the future needs of our children.
We fail to ask basic questions regarding what it is we are trying to achieve in schools today. What does being an educated person mean today? In the 19th century, a person was regarded as educated, if he could quote Shakespeare and the books of the Bible from memory.
Today, memory is relegated to the bottom as an academic skill.
We continue to place children in classrooms based on when they were born rather than on their developmental readiness, and as a result, we condemn children to be together for the next 13 years. We are asking preschoolers to skip important development milestones by demanding they have foundational skills before they are ready.
We continue to force children to be in class for eight hours each day without explaining why; we continue with the 19th-century farming practice of long summer vacations, and we treat every child the same without understanding how our present neurodevelopmental knowledge of a child can positively impact his/her learning.
How We Can Help
At Confident Parenting, we understand what children need to be successful, and what YOU will need to do to ensure your child’s school success. Your child only gets one chance at success, and you must make sure that his/her school understands your expectations.
This is not being a helicopter parent; this is simply being a parent.
One final note. Although American students are to be found in the middle of the pact by most international academic measures, there is one measure where our students lead by far- they are Number One! in self-esteem-they believe, mistakenly, that they are great- unfortunately, they will quickly discover just how far this will take them.