I recently read a post over on a friend’s blog about his thoughts on Schooling and Our Expectations. I agree with almost everything he says, but it got me thinking about education and the school system in America (but, honestly, since I’m studying to be a teacher it’s not hard to get me thinking about education!). Most of what he says deals with our attitude towards schools and how we treat them. I believe that, as a nation, we have a paradoxical love/hate relationship with schools and education.
On the one had we love school. We all understand that to get a good job one needs a good education, to get into a good college one needs to do well in high school, to suceed in life one needs to be constantly learing and improving one’s skills. We love nerds as well, those smart, geeky people who make our lives wonderful by inventing great things for us. We give them tons of money, in exchange for their products which make our lives better. We secretly envy these nerd-billionaires, and wish that we had paid better attention in school so that we could be that smart.
But on the other hand we constantly mock, tease, and ridicule nerds and geeks and smart people, in our own lives and repeatedly in our popular culture. So often in movies, TV, and literature the smart kid is the kid that nobody likes, the social outcast. We also keep complaining about our schools. Schools are depicted in most forms of pop culture as practically being prisons for kids. Kids hate school because it’s boring, and their parents hated school when they were kids, so they perpetuate the idea that school is boring and a waste of time.
This attitude is what needs to change if we really want to ‘overhaul’ our educational system. As my friend also mentions, we don’t need more time in school, more governmental influence in school, we need to change our attitude toward school. And it starts with us. Us, as students – Us, as parents – Us, as citizens in this country. We need to change the way we think about school. Parents need to be more involved with their children’s education – and I don’t mean just what they are learning in school. There was a study done, that showed that one of the factors indicating a child’s tendency toward education was the number of books in the home. Homes that had large libraries produce children that accomplish 2.4 years more schooling, on average. Why is this? It is because the parents show their children that reading and learning is important. It is the parents’ attitude toward reading and learning that influences the child most, and leads him to want to further his education.
And parents need to be involved with what their children are learning in school. People learn best when they teach – there is something about taking a concept and explaining it to someone else that leads to a greater understanding of that subject. Parents need to talk with their children about what they are learning, allow their children to ‘teach’ them what they are learning. This not only allows the child an opportunity of explaing and better understanding a subject, it shows the child that what they are learning in important. If parents show their children they care what their children are learning, children will pick up on that, and learning will become important to them as well.
That is one solution to our educational system. I won’t claim to have all the answers, and I’m sure there are many smarter than me who have great ideas. But I believe we need to change our attitude toward school. If we believe that school is important, then we need to stop hating it, we need to foster positive attitudes toward learning and education if we want our children to succeed.