Kids have all the right answers
Kids have all the right answers, we just don’t ask the right questions. Let’s look at some of the questions we ask. We teach lots and lots about world history. We teach the story of the Pilgrims over and over again. We teach about algebra and skills that few people ever need. We have a very limited amount of time to teach our students. We need to spend that time on what really matters and be prepared to give a thorough justification for why we are using up a child’s time with this stuff.
What are some of the questions we neither ask nor teach about? How do I manage a bully besides filling out some form? How do I change my community? How can I make my community a better place to live?
Our school does a follow-up survey of our graduates every year. One of the questions we ask is, “what else could we have taught you?” One of our respondents answered, “how to wrap my sandwich with aluminum foil”. Pretty basic and this is a smart kid who has a good job.
So, what should we be doing in school? We already know that the tasks required by the Common Core are not only mostly irrelevant but are beyond the developmental levels of the students involved. We know that the testing program required by No Child Left Behind has not improved the proficiency level of students starting college at all. The testing require by ESSA will do no good as well. In fact, the number of students requiring remedial classes as freshmen has gone up not down.
Everyone agrees there are problems in our educational system but no one is interested in looking at student outcomes and student needs. Decisions seem to be a poker game of who can up the ante the most and who can have higher standards, whatever those are.
Every child does not need to go to college. Every young adult does need a job, either after 4 years of post-secondary education, after a 2-year training program or after high school. Why not sort kids out based on skill set and interest and prepare them for what they want not what looks good on a politician’s resume.
Kids will tell you what they want out of their future lives. Some of those things are not very likely. But others are very realistic.
We need to ask the questions that will yield the information we need for an education that is learning process based, not one that is based on storing up lots of information. Information is all too easily found these days. Students don’t need to answer those questions. They want to give us answers to the how-to questions and we need to start talking about what those significant questions are.
Kids know the answers. Let’s start asking them the right questions.