Our Society’s Attitude Towards Education

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but school and life have all but consumed me recently. Yet during my downtime I read an article that caused me to come on here and post something that I think is horribly wrong with the way we think about school and education in general. The article was ‘People Are Arguing That School Hours Don’t Make Sense For Working Parents’. Overall, the article reveals some unsettling things about our attitude towards education.

The premise of the article is that school schedules do not align with how our society’s current work schedule. Since school lets out earlier than the normal five o’clock time that work lets out, it’s hard for families to actually take the time to pick up their kids and ensure that they’ve arrived at home safe and sound. These supposed families can’t afford child care during the remainder of their workday and the ones that can find it unfair that they’re having to incur this cost due to their work schedule. So the solution? Lengthen the school day by a few hours to align with work schedules. Easy, right?

Here’s what the article gets right. Yes, school as it currently is in the public sector is wildly out of date with how our country currently does business. We continually adhere to a school schedule that is not compatible with our continually changing society. We’re conducting school as though we were still an agricultural society. We still grant summers off, which allows too much time for students to forget what they’ve learned during the school year, resulting in needless reteaching when we could be moving forward towards more mastery of subjects. Overall, our school system in its current configuration is lazy and unmoving to responding to the needs of our rapidly evolving society. This idea that our schools are out of date is the only thing this article gets right.

Here’s what it gets wrong. We don’t live in a 9-5 world! While the article claims to consider low income families that can’t afford to leave work or pay for child care, someone in the comments to this article made the good point that most of these families more than likely don’t lead a 9-5 life. Their schedules are mostly fractured with random shift times that change probably week to week. So who would this schedule really help?

Second, school should not be looked at as day care! This article reveals our current attitude toward school. Simply put, it’s a place where children go while parents are at work. Demanding that schools lengthen the school days puts undue stress not only on the teachers and staff that don’t get paid enough as it is, but on the students as well.

I shudder whenever someone suggests that more school is what our children need. It’s actually the other way around. Our kids need less school because we are robbing them of their childhood. Asking that schools lengthen their school hours means that we’re already grooming our children for the work force. In essence, schools are becoming factories for more workers. This isn’t how school should be. School should be an experience that gives them the skills and tools that children need in order to pursue their talents. Why are we assuming that all kids will want a 9-5 job? And why are we putting more on them when they and parents already struggle with the demands of our current school system?

In the end, this article is suggesting we pull off the bandage on an already bleeding wound. It’s not schools that should change their hours. What should change? Wages for workers. Cost of child care. The culture of working yourself to death, yet still being unable to make ends meat. These are symptoms to even greater problems that should be addressed before we even think about lengthening school hours. So for now, I say leave the children alone. They have enough to worry about without adding more school on them. Let’s instead figure out all our other problems outside the campus so that we can give our children back their childhoods.

Brave New Technological World

Technology is definitely something that I can’t even fathom how people learn to grow up with nowadays. From my standpoint, I grew up with some technology. Our family had numerous TVs, VCRs, and video game systems. I bought my first real computer at age 16. Before then, I accessed the internet at school. I owned my first cell phone at 17. It wasn’t even the kind that flipped open, but it was no where near Zach Morris size either.

Zack-Morris-Phone-1-580x326

Dude, the 90s called. They definitely got that Saved By The Bell reference.

All you could do on it was call people and even that was novel because you could be reached anywhere. Needless to say, the world our kids live in now has far surpassed anything I had as a child.

I say all this because I know one has to be cautious when introducing technology to children. My mother, having had another set of kids after myself and my brother, was far more prudent with my sisters when it came to technology. Though they had cell phones at a young age for emergency purposes, they weren’t allowed onto social media until they entered their teenage years. I thought this was smart as it allowed them to connect with others outside of an online environment. The way they conduct themselves on social media is also very leveled and sane, at least by my standards.

I think there’s something to be said for being cautious in this way. With unprecedented access, kids these days find themselves more exposed to the world at large, losing their innocence earlier and earlier. But on the other side of the coin, I don’t think that should scare us from using technology to our advantage or allowing our kids to use technology to solve problems in ways others probably never would’ve thought of. In the end, there are major benefits as well as major consequences for technology as it is today.

Yet there’s no denying that for this generation, technology is an irreplaceable fact of life. As teachers, it’s our responsibility to model good behavior while finding opportunities to use technology to our advantage. Rather than lamenting about how the playing field’s changed, we need to be more willing to meet this generation on the field they were born with. It’ll not only keep us more in tune with our students, but it’ll keep us mentally young by extension. And by being more knowledgeable about technology, we’ll be in the best spot to both teach our students while ensuring they’re learning to be safe in this new technological world.

Fostering Respect, Kindness, and Community

Lesson Plan: Ownership, Respect, and Responsibility

http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/04/lp329-03.shtml

This lesson plan is pretty open ended and can be used to fit into any teaching scenario. I can easily see myself using this lesson in order to make points about copyrighting and plagiarizing people’s work. I especially like that Ownership is a big part of the lesson. The idea is that students are given various scenarios that demonstrate damage to property or people’s respect and from those scenarios, they rate each one by severity. I can see this as creating discussion and further questions about how to respect other’s work and intellectual properties.

Lesson Plan: What Do We Have in Common?

http://www.tolerance.org/activity/what-do-we-have-common-lunch-day-mixer

This lesson is very simple and easy to accomplish. The idea behind this one is getting students to find commonalities with each other. Students are paired off and find things in common. Next, it’s taken to another level and two pairs are put together. The goal is to find something that all four student have in common. From there, they present their findings to the class. I think something like this would help break down barriers and create understanding with each other.

This Week: Formative Assessment Tools

Socrative
http://www.socrative.com/

This week I looked at ‘Socrative’ by Mastery Connect. It’s a formative assessment tool that tracks the answers students give to pre-made quizzes and tests. You can create questions and receive answers on-the-fly in order to glean instant feedback. You can then use this feedback to drive further teaching and enhance your teaching methods.

For the most part, Socrative’s presentation as an app is both clean and well organized. You have the option to create quizzes, create rooms for different assessments, and even create a game out of assessments, which adds another dimension to student learning. I could see the benefits of viewing how students are learning based on their answers to certain questions. I also saw this as a productive tool for a teacher to modify and enhance their lessons. For example, it’s easy to tell if there’s a problem question that either needs to be worded differently or explain better next time because the metrics one needs to make that determination are provided for you. Overall, I thought this was a very well thought-out tool that’s easy to use and easy on the eyes as well.

My Intentions

I’m not quite sure where I want my particular blog to go in terms of content or focus. Much like my art currently, I haven’t found a solid theme or voice to unify my work. Given that I’m very new to the Art Education field in general right now, I’m still feeling things out. With that said, I do want to use this space to experiment with different approaches and thoughts. As I continue to modify it, I’m sure something tangible will evolve and I’ll have a better idea of what I really want to say. So for you, the reader, I ask you to hang with me and hope you’ll come back and visit to see what’s new.

Second Highlighted Education Blog

Teach Kids Art
http://www.teachkidsart.net/

At ‘Teach Kids Art’, you find a lot of useful tutorials and lesson plans that any teacher could use in their classrooms. I especially like one of the links I saw, ‘How to Take Great Photos of Kids’ Art Using Your iPhone’. It shows resourcefulness and touches on a subject I don’t think is stressed in earlier grade levels. The site is well organized and is quite the wealth of information. It’s nice that lesson plans are categorized into types of occasions such as holidays, or themes like culture. While for the first site I reviewed I mentioned it isn’t run-of-the-mill, this particular site is, but we art educators need good places to go for that as well.

First Highlighted Education Blog

Art Teachers Hate Glitter
Dear Crayola®:

Already I’m hooked by the title. Using humor to engage other art educators, the creator means this blog to be a space for her overall frustrations and observations on what it is to be an art educator in this day and age. There are no lesson plans or such for teachers, but I do think its good to have a safe space, even in the digital realm. Overall, I do think humor is a good tool to engage others because it breaks down defenses, which then enables people to relax. It’s a WordPress site too, so it acts as a good example of what we can do with our own blogs. All in all, this site is great because it’s not your run-of-the-mill education blog.