As a teacher, I hear much debate on the fate of education and our future. People have decided that teachers don’t teach and students can’t learn , and that there are myriad reasons why. I can’t imagine it’s that easy to list all the problems, focus the blame and write off a generation of children. Are there differences between now and back then ( as long as you can tell me when back then is) ? Of course! Has computer technology changed our lives, the way we learn and the world we know? Absolutely! Do children still want to feel good about themselves and what they are learning? Do parents want to feel pride in their children’s accomplishments? Those needs remain the same. What is different is how much any one person wants to invest. Not in terms of of money, but of support.Mentors, volunteers, people with specific skills can all improve education. Parents need to reinforce appropriate behavior and goal-setting. Saying that they didn’t like math as a child does nothing to help when their child faces difficulties.Our children have a desire for instant gratification which we as parents in a rush to give them everything and solve their problems for them, and computers which have made our world instantaneous have fostered. Our society feeds the idea constantly that it’s ok to want it and the time to get it is now.Our children in turn have learned little about perseverance , but it is a skill that can be taught.
Our communities need to value schools and education rather than treat teachers as a political enemy or as a tax problem .Our media needs to see value in communicating the positive accomplishments of the majority of students and not the antics of a few. Our teachers must be open to trying new ideas, then embracing and building on those strategies that work. Should teachers be held accountable? Yes. The issues of accountability require further examination and evaluation must be comprised of a number of tools.Should the decision about a teacher’s proficiency be based on a drop-in evaluation on any given day or a state created test that bears no relevance to the demands of today’s society ? No, not unless everyone else’s job performance is evaluated in the same way and that our goal is to turn out legions of students with basic skills and no creative or problem-solving skills.There are issues of trust and direction which need to be identified and discussed . So ,is a return to the good old days the answer? No, there were so many who had no chance for an education, many who faced discrimination, and others who suffered by being labeled unable to learn. Surely we have come far enough to see the growth and that there remains a long road ahead . The journey will be easier if there are helping hands and positive voices along the way.