As I sit here waiting for visitors on this brisk, Friday, October 1st, last night’s Vice-Presidential debate keeps echoing in my head.Make it stop!
There are, of course, many things that I am remembering, but one of the most relevant comments made by one of the candidates included the phrase “[we have to] ramp up education.”
Not that I wasn’t interested in the other topics, but education is very close to my heart (forgive the cliché) and it got me to wonder what constitutes an education.So, I pulled up the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online to see how they define not only education, but also teach and learn as they are all closely woven together.
Webster’s defines education as:
The field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools.
Webster’s defines teach as:
1. To impart the knowledge of
2. To conduct instruction regularly in
Webster’s defines learn as:
To gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience
In my experience, these definitions can be summed up in this way:Education is when teaching and learning happen at the same time resulting in a comfortable, independent learner.It must include both the teacher and the student meaning that both have to be responsive to each other for education to occur.
So what is it called when teachers teach, but children don’t learn?Through no fault of their own, this is happening to nearly 30% of all students in today’s society!Of that 30%, roughly 10% receive additional support services in school leaving the other 20% to struggle and fall behind.*Are these 20% getting the education they deserve?
A recent study commissioned by a group of independent learning centers across the country shows that more money and smaller class sizes have not been changing the outcome of test scores of students in the United States.Tests that children endure today are ones that were designed to fulfill the government’s idea that testing will show how well teachers are teaching their students.Unfortunately, they do not take into account nor do they allow for the child who struggles with anxiety, poor processing speed, difficulty reading, weak memory or the inability to efficiently comprehend verbal instructions due to auditory processing difficulties.Although the majority of these children will not be identified as struggling, Are these children getting the education they deserve?
And what about the students who fail to turn in their homework, who seem to be unmotivated, who seem to already ‘know’ what the teachers are teaching them yet can pass tests/quizzes with little or no studying?While this group of children is much smaller in size, Are they getting the education they deserve?
Education can be the best thing that happens to a child, but it can also be the worst.While teaching no doubt takes place in every classroom across this nation every day, learning does not for too many children.
What’s the answer?
Sadly, one answer would not make sure every child gets the education they deserve because every child is different in their needs.But looking at what education is in a different way would begin the quest to a path to ensure that individual children would indeed get the education they deserve.While this would not necessarily be easy and would certainly lead to educating parents, teachers and other professionals, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that our children will learn!
I believe it is possible for every child to get the education they deserve by beginning early to assess not what the child knows (knowledge), but what the child can do (skills).A Kindergartener will struggle with spelling his name (knowledge) if he cannot visualize the letters in his mind (skill).A 3rd grader will not be able to learn her math facts (knowledge) if she does not have a strong memory (skill).An 8th grader will struggle with completing science labs using their results (knowledge) if they cannot logic & reason (skill).By the time these students are in 12th grade, they will be headed for becoming a dropout and being faced with either getting their GED or entering the workforce at the lowest possible level in most cases.
It’s not that these children are not smart.Too often, in fact, children like I’ve introduced here are indeed very smart in some skill areas while having deficiencies in other skills.This type of skill set translates to an ‘average’ or ‘normal’ child who will receive no help in school.Are they getting the education they deserve?
We are losing children every day in this country who cannot efficiently learn due to weak learning skills which leaves me with this conclusion…our children are NOT getting the education they deserve!