One of the greatest challenges I find about working in the education system is the importance of exterior appearances. As our society has grown and developed, our ability to connect and communicate across great lengths has increased at rapid speed. This allows us to bring the walls in a little closer to the vastness of our world; otherwise I probably would not be able to be in this course, writing this blog, right? And it is a beautiful, extraordinary thing, but has created some demons as well. Being abroad alongside co-workers with no teacher training can be a bit frustrating while trying to collaborate lesson ideas, classroom management tips etc. Therefore, I am very grateful to websites such as Teacherspayteachers, Pinterest, and, for when I am feeling particularly lazy, straight up Google. However, the more I bag, borrow or steal these ideas online, the worse I feel about education as an institution. While I believe that you cannot judge someone until you know their story, I am judging their teacher websites. It is not to check their teaching pedagogy, or critique their classroom effectiveness, but to answer the question, why so over the top? Having these blogs, posts, and websites has made teaching become trendy and cutesy, the elaborate design often makes question if these teachers do it for the sake of their students or for the sake of a repost or friendly comment. These articles reminded me of this as the next, new innovating things might not actually be helping our kids at all.
The Schoolhome article was an interesting read as it peaked the same underlying theme while raising a new issue, where are the connections between what we are teaching our students and real life application? The line that hit me hardest was, “just how many students of those students in Chris Zajak’s and Jessica Siegel’s schools are unable to establish rapport with a curriculum that does not reach out to them no one really knows” (p. 54). Just as I stated about that technological advancements are changing teachers’ perspectives on education, it is also changing what our curriculum should be based upon. We live in a world today where the ability to memorize will soon become obsolete. There is actually no necessary reason to teach our students facts without application. At any point during my day I can look up almost any answer to any question I have. Again, this is a beautiful thing, but it changes the dynamic of what we are to be teaching our students. For example, the workbooks used for the English Program at my current school are ridiculous; they are jam-packed full of vocabulary with vague fill-in-the-blank spaces and unnecessary repetition. Language learning is not about mimicking sounds, and copying letters, but about communication. If I need to know a word in Thai really fast, I have an app for that; however, the context in when to use variations of that word is not something good ol’ Siri can tell me – that’s where education comes into play. Just as the students in this article were only given various pieces of actual truth, by only granting education in the context seen fit to the educator and their generational view, students will not be able to evolve and thrive in their new society.
One aspect about Jane Addam’s chapter eighteen was her attentiveness to the importance of student connection to classroom content. Even as a learner now I find this to be true – I search for what peaks my interest, I suppose we all do. Students must find value in what they are learning; however the basis of that value does not necessarily have to be a deep, personal connection. During my internship year I was able to see this carried out in many of my kids. My mentor teacher never asked students what they “wanted to be when they grew up”, but “what were they going to do to earn money?” At first in hearing this, I thought it was a little harsh for third graders, but once I understood the students and their community and was able to comprehend the effectiveness of talking so maturely about their future. Understanding that sometimes the cards are stacked up against our students and that education is their only way out was one of my biggest lessons that year. Students did not have to necessarily initially care about education for the sake of learning, but understand its importance as a means to create a better life for themselves.
Overall I believe there are contextualized elements that create various dynamics between home and school cultures, as there should be. However, in order to look home versus school cultures on a broader perspective, as educators, we must look through a lens that indicates where the blends of these two will take our society in the future.
Relating article: Sir Ken Robinson on What’s the School of Your Dreams
“A really great school would be a mix of what you would find in your community”