I feel that I should preface this post by saying:
My experience is in no way indicative of the entirety of the public school system in the United States. I *know* that there are some amazing teachers out there who are striving to change the learning environment. And I also know that, with amazing and supportive administrators, they have the freedom to “mix it up”. I *know* these wonderful people exist. I actually follow lots of them on Instragram and they give me hope. However, I feel that they are still a minority in “the system”. Too many feel the pressure of a rigid administration and/or district. Too many are (justifiably) afraid of straying “outside the lines”. As a result, too many are burnt out and, therefore, just going through the motions. With that said, let’s jump in!
For as long as I can remember, my dream career has always been teacher. I spent so many weekends and summer days bribing my younger brother into playing “school”. Throughout my college years, I spent quite a bit of time in local elementary schools and loved it. But, in retrospect, I was seeing the teacher side of the classroom through the rosiest of lenses. Even after graduating and entering the classroom full-time, I didn’t fully “get it”. It wasn’t until becoming a mom and watching a person grow and learn from the very beginning of life that I began to see clearly the wasteland that is our country’s public education system.
From the moment an infant opens his eyes, he is taking in stimulus from his environment. Once he discovers his hands, he begins grabbing and inspecting everything within reach. As soon as he becomes mobile, he explores all of his surroundings with the purest, most genuine curiosity. For several years, he runs wild and free and absorbs so much! Then, around age five, he goes to kindergarten where, more often than not, he’s no longer free to explore. There’s way more sitting and listening, and far less doing. Eventually, his curiosity and creativity dims, if not burns out completely.
We live in an advanced society with so much potential that we can’t even comprehend, yet we’re still teaching kids as if we’re shipping them off to a factory to work on an assembly line. This country needs forward-thinking innovators, not mass-produced recreators. And again, as I mentioned in the preface, there are teachers striving to make this happen: Their classrooms look much different than the norm; students are up, moving around, and learning through doing – fully immersed in the learning experience. But most students are not so lucky.
Most students are victims of an archaic system with a very limited focus. We are inadvertently restricting student potential by teaching only what some detached group of individuals deemed important and evaluating their success based solely on the standards that group concocted. I lost the desire to be a part of that system. And I definitely didn’t want it for my own child.
So that’s why I am a master’s degree-weilding teacher with a class size of one…and now teaching looks and feels the way I always dreamed it would. Don’t get me wrong, as an educator, I still make it a point to hit the standards…but we do so much more than that…and we make it fun.
Until next time.