This week, I had the opportunity to spend time with an inspiring group of teachers in Potsdam. They told me how their profession – like so much else unnecessarily mired in politics – is hamstrung by needless obstacles. These teachers and their students have to adhere to standards that mandate not only what they do, but when they have to do it, and how.
Some of these standards are necessary – they make sure that every child gets a certain standard knowledge base to prepare them for high school, college, and beyond into the working world.
But other mandates were only created under the false belief that teachers need a “top-down” structure to teach. Mandates and rules that someone, from a thousand miles away, felt compelled to standardize how community’s children should best learn.
As I talk to more and more educators and parents across the district, I hear the same thing: they want to remove these hurdles. They want to rewrite and reexamine these rules, and be able to work creatively and functionally at the classroom, school, and district level. They know that someone a thousand miles away can’t possibly be more qualified to understand how to teach a community’s children than people who are in that community.
We all know that. We also know that we can fix this.
What if we empowered our teachers, students and parents so that they can figure out how to learn as a team? What if teachers could pick and choose from the best techniques and ideas available, aided with the best knowledge-sharing and training out there? We know that mission-based master/apprentice, group-based problem-solving yields the best and most enjoyable learning experience for all.
Here’s the truth: we must uplift the knowledge and dedication of those who stand at the front of our classrooms every day. If we don’t, the misaligned interests of this system will continue to hurt teachers and students. That’s bad for all of us, and potentially our national security, because those students are the foundation upon which the future of this country is being built.
Until we commit to making a change together, our ability to apply any new ideas and techniques in the classroom will continue to be held back in our school districts. It’ll literally come to a halt, simply because of the way our educational infrastructure is designed and functions right now.
From The Archive:
Community Hero Playbook – Education
David Banks: Hotspotting Education in New York