My comment to: “Make Way For Awe” on NBC’s Education Nation:
Your description, I’m guessing, takes place in a school that is not “at risk” and/or “inner city.” I teach in a very “at risk” elementary school where students in 6th grade don’t know the difference between a lake and the ocean – WHY? because their curriculum has been narrowed to only math and literacy. The scene described above would fill them with wonder and start to open their eyes to what is really out there beyond the confines of their neighborhood and a curriculum devoid of those things that spark imagination. Many of us try to explain why that narowed approach does not achieve the desired outcome for many because part of reading is having the schema, the reference to understand what is, and what is happening.
Enter the “reformers” most of whom have very little to no experience in education, but do have either fame, fortune or are in politics. I hope unwittingly, but I’m afraid not, they spread their uninformed opinions, like they have the holy grail of education in their hands just because they are successful. Anyone that tries to express an alternate view is quickly labelled a whiner or a member of the status quo society. The real truth is that these reformers are the status quo. They push a reform vision that is really a return to education 100 years ago. “Sit up straight! Listen! Show you are paying attention! Ask questions when appropriate!” But don’t learn how to learn … only learn to be taught … to be reliant on the purveyor of knowledge behind the curtain … I mean in the front of the room. Don’t use 21st century tools, the old tools were good enough for us, they are good enough for you. Teachers and students are not the experts – listen to us and relegate them to a pat on the head and a little encouragement.
Yes this trip to the stars would be great for my students. I might even take them there. But don’t tell Bill Gates or Brian Williams or the others that get to form our opinion of schools by having the most voice, they might not let me. Their kids wouldn’t be subjected to this pathetic, anti-septic curriculum … but they get to feel good that they are helping “those kids” by subjecting them to it.
Let’s allow ALL our children to look to the stars this way! They will all thank you later.