Extending The School Year….

The new secretary of education is considering having students go to school at least 6 days out of the week and at least 11 months out of the year. As a former public school teacher I can tell you that is NOT the answer. Until the education system in this country ENCOURAGES children’s natural love of learning…is creative, and exciting….it just won’t work. Putting children in classrooms for longer hours isn’t going to make them better students. That is just ridiculous! All that will do is encourage resentment and apathy on already overworked teachers and students who will be wondering how “school” has any real life application? The truth is “school” isn’t real life…..Learning IS.
I believe all children have a natural desire to learn. They are curious about things. They want to know why things are the way they are. Our school systems in this country have stifled that natural love of learning by cramming information into the school day that is only necessary to earn an “A” on a test. Unfortunately, teachers are under extreme pressure to “teach to the test”. If your students aren’t passing the tests then you, as the teacher, are a failure. (Of course, as a teacher you are expected to teach to ALL the students. Not just the “cream of the crop” as in many foreign countries. Sorry, it has always bugged me when we are compared to other countries– many other countries around the world don’t educate ALL their children. They only educate the rich, the intelligent, the motivated. To me that skews the statistics.)
In my opinion, I think the entire educational system in this country needs a serious overhaul. Nothing will change and nothing will get any better until the very foundation of education is changed. Teach to interests, weave math and language into real life daily activities, go on field trips to real places, have speakers come in to talk to students, read classical literature, discuss and get opinions. Make children THINK, not just memorize. Give students the chance to solve real life problems…not just fill in the bubbles on a test sheet. Do we as citizens of the USA want students who are creative, passionate, innovative, problem solvers when they graduate from high school? Or do we want students who are short term memorizers so they pass a test, who daydream of what they will do when this boring class is over with, and who wonder what the importance is of the material they had to read in a textbook? I guess the decision is ours…..what will that decision be?