become the revolution

By nature and design, I am a teacher and a storyteller. My Facebook bio says it, and anyone who has known me for more than a few days can vouch for it. Education, as I said in my last post, is vital to pursuing any dream anyone has, because it’s what prepares us for the challenges and difficulties that lie in the way of said dream.

I was lucky. My education was largely private, and while it was overloaded and even bogged down by religion (Catholic school places a little too much emphasis on God and not enough on the talents we’re given), I emerged a smart, well-adjusted person, though I was completely unprepared for the real world.  Sometimes I still wish I had done better in my AP English classes and had worked a little harder on math. Michonne’s mother will probably try to help me with that.  Good luck, Mrs. O. You’ll need it.

Our education system in the United States, and in developed countries all over the world, is under siege. While I work retail, I make a point of reading and studying whenever I can, and as I meet people who are in college and read the things some of them write, I find myself wondering if some teacher decided to just tell them the rules of English and then send them on their way.  Grammar, syntax, and general diction have declined in education since I was in school. Most of my classmates in high school could construct what we writers call a “tight, cohesive sentence” without much trouble. Lately, however, I see the total lack of respect and attention paid to proper teaching and usage of the English language.  Part of this problem is a result of bad teaching. Teachers who teach to a test or who just follow a predetermined, mass-produced curriculum are not helping anyone.  The districts, and even the system itself, are to blame for this, though the students should be able to rise above this horribly antiquated system.  Facebook, as many of you are aware, is a mine field of bad grammar and spelling, and our digitized world of textspeak isn’t helping the situation either.

But the other part of the problem is that we are starving students of opportunities to enhance what they already consider strengths, in an international effort to be “well-rounded and competitive in a global economy.” Instead of teaching our students how to build a better nuclear bomb, or to be better average citizens, how about we try something new:

British professor, philosopher, and creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson believes that worldwide, schools kill creativity. They remind children that no matter how good you might be at something, if you can’t make money at it, you shouldn’t do it. And I find that to be deeply depressing.  I love running, but a few years ago, someone close to me told me that I’d never make any money at it. While he was trying to get me to be realistic, I was at the top of my game when he told me this, and slowly, my passion for it went away because the rest of my life took the time I once used for my favorite sport. I haven’t run consistently in years.

Robinson proposes that we move our education system away from the industrial model; that is, we stop following a model of trying to get every student to be the same, and we move towards an agricultural model, where educators create the circumstances and conditions for students to flourish and allow their talents to grow. We have enough scientists and professors.  What we need is more creative people. We need innovators of a different sort these days, because we’ve become so involved in just being the best that we’ve become mediocre at everything but science and math. While these subjects are important, I argue that literature, art, theatre, music, and history are no less important, and maybe even more so, because they remind us of our humanity.

Sir Ken Robinson’s first TED lecture, about schools killing creativity

Sir Ken Robinson’s second TED lecture, about the need for an education revolution

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