Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our School's Product: Serviceable or Dynamic?

Image licensed under Creative Commons by David Poole http://www.flickr.com/photos/dipster1/1403240351/sizes/l/

The students the public school system develops could be described as an abandoned toolbox. The ability of the tools all depends on the person using them. For the tools to create something dynamic and unique, they rely on someone to tell them what to do. Our system is creating a generation of stuffed toolboxes just waiting for a designer, a carpenter, anyone that can tell them what to do. 
Each tool strategically and individually processed for the purpose of one job. Resulting in an overwhelming amount of potential when found in the same toolbox as many varying tools! Tragically there is no ownership of this set of tools (skills or talents). These tools are starving for interaction with each other, looking for opportunities to explore, create, construct, and experiment.
Only, much time is spent improving and evaluating an already adequate tool. Instead of utilizing school to show what capabilities a toolbox allows for, when paired with the special talents of a unique individual.

Measurable goals produce predictable measurable results. In this case the result or outcome produced from the public education system, is a serviceable person. SERVICEABLE. Is that how we would want our children to be described?
They’ve learned what to think instead of how to think. They’ve admirably developed their skillset but have no clue how these can be used together to produce something authentic.

The measureable standards and skills are important but should not be our priority. I'm going to attempt to teach in a way that engages the way students are made to learn.

I’ve been reading  a novel that could probably also be found in the self-help section. I love those types of books! It is flooded with powerful themes of producing results through perspective and decision-making. In The Noticer Returns, the character with great perspective suggests that an end result must first be agreed upon. This drives the process. Every decision and activity must drive us closer to that end result.
Unfortunately, the end result agreed upon by the educational system is mastery of isolated skills on a standardized assessment. This drives the process everyday in every classroom.  

In the book by Andy Andrews, a small group of parents identify traits and characteristics that they would desire for their children.
Some were:
To be divinely guided, to have a grateful spirit, to have a joyful spirit, to be loyal, responsible, humble, to be a creative thinker, to have a servant’s heart (p.91).
The list went on with about a total of twenty characteristics. And the point is, none of them are very measurable, concrete traits. And surely none of them are listed in the state or national standards for the classroom.

How would our results change, if we put these types of abilities and traits as our priority and the needed measurable skills and objectives were still developed with intent but now served a supporting role. This would allow our children’s lives to result in dynamic, creative accomplishments according to their uniqueness.

What great contrast between the ideas of a “dynamic” individual and a “serviceable” person. Lets agree on what we desire for an end result so that our process and decisions can align with that. Great conversation to have for every school, community and household!
What do you want your child’s school to produce?