Friday, November 29, 2013

Parents Save Your Children: Support Innovation Education

I'm becoming impatient... Truth be told, patience is not my biggest strength! There are so many educators out there who truly care about changing education for the better. Why can't we make it happen NOW? I know, I know, there are all kinds of reasons: high-stakes testing, APPR, SAT's, ACT's and AP's. I hear it all the time. Teachers can't take time to go in depth in an area, because students and parents expect that they will "cover" everything that might be on a test. Thus, they teach year after year in the same way: the way they were taught.

I asked a science teacher recently: why don't you use project based learning to teach the material? Why not ask an open-ended question and let the students figure it out? The answer was, 'I haven't taught that way. I don't even begin to know how.' And, actually, if the way they are teaching helps kids perform on the tests and, thus, get into great colleges, then why change? With so much pressure coming from parents (and students) to gain admittance to top-level schools, and needing almost perfect scores to do it, no wonder teachers do what they feel they have to...

So in every problem there is a pivotal moment when enough people have seen the solution and they can start to sway the majority. This "tipping point" is upon us. Parents at the elementary level understand that tests are taking away the joy of school and learning for their kids. They see the purpose of play, of tinkering, and trying to figure out answers to open-ended questions. Parents of young children know that creative confidence is important. These parents, as their children move up through the grades, need to hold onto those ideals and not get sucked into the college process-where their children become only the sum of their test scores and college resumes. They need to continue to encourage their children's passions and enable them to have time and space to pursue them.

Parents, find your voices. Take up the call. Your children's lives are at stake. Don't allow testing and content heavy education to take away their joy and excitement in learning. Talk to your school's teachers and administrators. Vote for Board of Education members who are like-minded. Write letters and make phone calls to state legislators. Support your children's pursuit of passion. Give them space, time and materials. Help them find mentors. And help your schools. There are many, many teachers and administrators out there who get it. But we can't do this alone. We need parents.