Education: a Failed-State

I was just chatting about the educational system.  Someone noted that this is not anything new– the failed-state of education.  It was failed a long time ago.. yep! Absolutely! it is like people in a house that should be condemned, moving the furniture around.. thinking that will improve circumstances.. and then they serve tea and cakes:)

Nope- definitely not new.  but somehow it seems to be getting swept under the carpet a lot. Esp around the whole NCLB and testing/ competencies.  you know who the testing benefits the most…? the corporations that produce the tests!

It never ceases to amaze me, whether it is schools, or national politics etc.. how blindly people will remain loyal to the sinking ship… it is a failed system for today’s needs.  period.  The model was developed to create functional workers who would then have a job for life, on the assembly line in manufacturing.  THAT is the energetic paradigm. That economic model.  It’s DEAD! .. and much the same way this country was founded, with the energetic paradigm, of second sons/ uninherited.. intent to get their piece of wealth and power… and guess what.. that is the same dynamic continuing to echo down through today’s politics and corporate manifestos.. more politely worded, of course:)

but anyway-as someone noted, this was a failed system 30 and 50 years ago.  I remember when I did my student teaching/ mentoring.. looking at the teachers lesson plans.. thinking– this was crap curriculum 20 years ago.. it hasn’t changed.. so is even more total crap.. now!

One of the problems in education.. is that it seems to be more about the teacher.. than about the students.  let the students decide what they need.. let them build it.. and let them have the learning.  The teacher already knows this stuff.. or should!! all tests do, is promote those that have 2 traits.  good short term memory skills.. and — the suck up, did I get the right answer” sort of student.

The fault lies, in many ways… in the mechanisms by which teachers are taught- via the Ivory Tower.. where egos and agendas prevail.  Also– like any corporation.. look at the head of the pyramid.. and you will KNOW what is going to get promoted/succeed.  those most like its *coughcough* trusted leader. I wouldn’t trust my advisors if I was holding a rocket launcher! period!  I played that game… and found out how that game works. My graduate cohort was the cattieest, pettiest, “behind closed doors” lying-est back-stabbing group of pre-teachers.. that I could possibly have imagined.  And no one was sacred.. one professor even submitted his resignation as a result of machinations and betrayal ( which was then bold-facedly LIED about).  Guess who was most successful at this UVM graduate program?  You guessed it. “Nuff said.

One of my cohorts- and I use that only in the educational sense of the term– looked at my trying to understand the relevance of “inductive towers reasoning” lesson.  She said, and I quote:  Who cares.  Just tell him what he wants to hear.  I’m never going to use this crap anyway. Guess who got the A? I, on the other hand, could never get the professor’s help.  Imagine that…She was far better at playing the game of manipulation.  In her own words- getting A’s were super important to her.  She had never NOT gotten an A.  and SHE, was more committed to getting an A, than some of us others were.  This last, I had in confidence from a professor.  This graduate student asked to split the cohort intwo- because some people were more committed to getting a good grade than others.  That’s collegiality?  Did the graduate office kick her ass back into the group and tell her to figure out how to work with the others? NOOOO… they had conflict resolution specialists come in and all sorts of interventionist strategies.. ultimately catering to the problem.

The end result- the ones that get through the system of BECOMING teachers.. are those most prone to the conformity model.  They LIKE and feel most in their comfort zones when things are ” neat and tidy.”  and they are perpetuating a model of education.. that didn’t work for 50% of the class.  THEY were having fun and ” learned” a lot taking tests and writing papers.  Did it never occur to them that 85% of the class was NOT having fun? NOOOOO! of course not.. what works for one, MUST work for all, right?  yeah! Teachers tend to come from 1-2 learning styles.. this is further entrenched because of HOW teachers are “selected,” themselves.. out of the box thinkers.. innovators.. do not fare well in educational and graduate programs. Those creative and innovative sorts, usually get pushed out, or eventually just don’t see the point in it, and go into other areas- outside of education!

SOOO.. the kids get left with those who were most like what has always been there.  Hence how-why the ship is sinking.  It has been sinking for a long time… and the ones on the ship titanic.. are re-arranging deck chairs, thinking that will save the day… uumm.. wrong!

Who is served by perpetuating this model?  the teachers– of course! they stay in their comfort zones, have steady reliable ( often tenured, which is crap) jobs… and very little oversight about what goes on in their classroom.

It is small wonder that research shows that the majority of what kids learn.. the important lessons, re social and educational realities… outside the classroom.

I really do wonder if the next innovation in education will be online experiences, where kids can self-guide their own process.  But then again, as previously noted.. I suspect none of us can foresee what will be innovated via the technology we have at hand today:)  What do you see as the future of education? How do we prepare our young to contribute to society and community and give them a place of relevance?  Their voices need to be heard.  They MATTER- what can we do to resolve this crisis?

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Author, herbalist, Holistic Coach at BeingHerd
Teri is the author of Dancing in Your Bubble (practical spirituality), and Holistic Support for Alzheimers. She is also a practicing herbalist and holistic coach herbalist and holistic coach.She specialises in Holistic Alzheimer coaching and group training, as well as working with non-traditional youth. She uses a wide range of skills and information to support people in creating happier, fuller, healthier lives.she is a life-long equestrian, with rehab racehorses and a small farm of dairy goats.
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About Teri

Teri is the author of Dancing in Your Bubble (practical spirituality), and Holistic Support for Alzheimers. She is also a practicing herbalist and holistic coach. She specialises in Holistic Alzheimer coaching and group training, as well as working with non-traditional youth. She uses a wide range of skills and information to support people in creating happier, fuller, healthier lives. she is a life-long equestrian, with rehab racehorses and a small farm of dairy goats.
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  1. YOu are so right about the conformity of teachers and that there is a need for deep change. Who can initiate that change? learning happens best in social interaction where all parties all can be equal learners and where there is a qualified facilitator.

    Trusting only technology is not enough, it is a good tool but not the master.

    Kind regards
    Harriet Fagerholm

    • Harriet,

      that’s a really good question- who can initiate that change?

      I imagine that it will emerge organically, by those for whom the system has failed.

      Home schooling- may be one place where change will emerge. I think it used to be that most parents chose to home school for religious reasons ( which is their choice, and fine). I think more and more, parents are choosing to home school for a wider range of reasons. The quality and approach to education, the lack of holistic approach.

      with far greater access to information, and the innovation of new technologies- no child is lacking, for being in the home-schooled environment. Many colleges even have their lectures available to the public via satellite tv ( I miss that about my satellite, UCTV is great)… and I believe it is also available via website.

      In other words- information is flowing. Once upon a time, a teacher was the sole arbiter of information… much the way the Catholic Priest stood between parishioners and God/damnation.. The teacher stood between the student and the knowledge. that is simply no longer true. In fact, the kids often have far more access to the information than their teachers- being more tech-savvy than ever their teachers could hope to become.

      Early colleges may be another combined solution. while I am not a huge fan of AP classes and online-distance learning within the HS setting ( note the HS IS the problem).. I think that more kids could be accelerated more quickly than they are. BTW- check out the book “My Ishmail.” Very eye-opening and thought-provoking discussion of the nature of public education.

      Combine that with more tech-voc programs- which, are at least more hands-on and involve the students in what they would actually be DOING, in a real-world situation. While I am not a huge fan of outcome based and “job-training”.. which tends to do two things.. First, it tracks kids from an early age, sorting them into college-material and not-college material.. which ranks them as though some are superior or inferior than others.. Secondly, statistically, in college, students change their major at least twice. there is so much to learn and explore.. how do we expect our kids to choose their life-path at 14, and not give them options for changing that path in the future?

      I think more colleges also, need to explore the experiential model- however.. that will go back to bringing in a different crop of teachers, who can build a new criteria, from the ground up- what it would look like, what students would do, and how determine success.

      Personally, I think that portfolios and authentic projects are the way to go. Much akin to the early days of computer work and graphic design– before there were a gazillion schools and programs to teach the new skill. A person had a portfolio that was an actual demonstration of skill and ability.

      I wonder what kids would design.. if it was in their hands. any kids out there? Do you have kids? Ask them to take an honest stab at this one…

      I also think- school should be a right- not legal mandate. what do you think about that?



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