Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Can't Get There From Here

I have been saying for a couple years now that educational reform is not really possible with our current educational system; this is why I threw in the towel and left to form HoneyFern. In my last two years in the public schools, every innovative turn was met with opposition and strife; kids were getting used to doing nothing, administrators were only worried about the numbers, and teachers were just trying to get through the day without a confrontation with parents, absentee or helicopter, who felt their child deserved a grade they didn't earn. Death by ditto was common.

I am not shocked this morning to read a blog by Psychology Today that supports my assertions. Specifically,

There is no way that gradual change in our current schooling system can result in the kind of educational reform that I am calling real reform.  The small steps in what would seem to be the right direction, urged on by the progressive educators, fail within this system. They fail because they don't work when taken one by one or just a little at a time.  A little "freedom" in a system where success is measured by tests doesn't work, because free children don't choose to learn the test answers. "Play" in a setting where children are segregated by age and are constrained in what they can play at is not a particularly effective learning tool. 

This is what I was experiencing when I left; the reforms I could make in my classroom were so small as to be ineffective in the long term, and getting kids, parents and administrators to embrace what I was doing - problem-based learning, student-designed projects, portfolio assessment instead of testing, enrichment sessions after school for kids who had mastered the basics and were ready for more or deeper study - became increasingly difficult as they latched on to the mediocrity engendered by such a standardized instituition.

The solution, according to the article? Real reform will occur only when enough people walk away from the conventional school system.

I realized that two years ago, and I left. Rates of homeschooling are rising, with an estimated 2 million kids being homeschooled as of 2010, and blended learning environments - part face-to-face and part online - are gaining traction as a viable educational alternative.

Public schools are failing, and the Band-aids being plastered on the sucking chest wound are not going to work. WALK AWAY. It is time to vote with our feet, not just parents but teachers, too.

People will begin to understand that they have a choice.  Which will they choose--conventional schooling, where they must do as they are told, or freedom?  What have people always chosen when they truly understand that they have a choice between freedom and dictatorship?

You are not a prisoner of the local school board; there are families in your community who are thinking the same thing. Identify them, form a co-op, and get your kids the education they deserve. I did that for mine, try to do it for others and I don't regret it one bit.

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