[This posting was written during our Democrat Presidential Forum Watch Party on June 28, but was never published. It is important to publish even at this late date because these are the concerns of citizens who gathered to hear what the Democrat Presidential candidates had to say about these concerns.]
On the topic of education, our small group at the LBJ library had different opinions about what the specific problems are in education. While we did not agree on the exact nature of what needs to be fixed, it is clear that we all feel the system needs real work.
Children are born with an incredible appetite to learn – but somewhere along the way, they lose that eagerness, that appetite if they do not feel connected and engaged and active participants – for education to be successful, we have to nurture that desire to be involved and be connected.
We are not keeping up with the trends – kids learn differently these days and we are still using archaic tools that mean nothing to them – we use print when kids are acclimated to technology – we are not keeping up – school is formulaic – we are not keeping pace with changes in the ways kids learn.
Americans are in a knowledge-based market and have to deal with overload of information – if we do not teach children to work projects and in teams, we are missing the boat – we no longer need to teach facts, we need to teach how to research – how to find the facts, libraries should be playing a larger role – they have the critical skills that people need to succeed.
But, if you don’t understand the basics, how can you understand the process? We measure how well people can memorize, not how creative or brilliant people truly are. We are not nurturing people skills – our criteria of success is misleading.
Testing mechanisms foster memorization rather than learning the skills they really need. Students need to work on projects and skills that are really applicable to the workplace. Doing things that are hands-on, dialog-based group projects. This disconnect from what needs to be taught is legislated by mandated testing programs.
We can’t talk about education in a vacuum. Education and other issues are so interrelated – how can a child succeed in school when he is living in sub-standard housing, going to school hungry and carrying the stress of poverty?