Sunday, October 30, 2005

Educating for the Unknown

It is imperative that teachers in the United States pay attention to the parochial attitude of our public education system. While we are worried about our student's passing standardized tests so that they and we will not be deemed as failing, the world is bounding ahead of us. The innovation and excitement of educational movements in the 1960's and 1970's in the US were eclipsed by a lack of a cohesive structure and unity in the educational field to implement these ideas within a framework of accountability. Now, under NCLB, we fall victim to accountability without innovation and without a voice. It is easy to blame the government for this predicament, perhaps some serious soul searching is in order- Teachers should not be swept along by tides of government, and rhetoric from organizers, rather they should be thinking and implementing innovative ways of facilitating learning for students who face the unknown. On 9/11 most teachers were in their classrooms getting ready to face a new day, and indeed it was not just a new day, but a new world, one in which teachers and students must be prepared to face the unknown. The challenge is to look upon the classroom not simply as a place where teachers go to work and students go to learn, rather it should be an experiment ground, where each day students can explore ideas, create products, create problems and learn how to solve them in a safe and comfortable environment. Perhaps it is time to look beyond our shores and boarders to other cultures and other countries for ideas on pedagogy. Perhaps it is time to listen to other people-- including the voices of our students as to what needs to be studied and learned. I recommend, if you have not read it, Howard Gardner's, Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Some disagree with his ideas; I feel if we do not expand the definition of intelligence in this country many students will be lost and eventually we will be lost as a nation.

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