Questions I had/have/will continue to have, and answers I’ve been getting. One of the key things that I feel needs to be done here is to provide a forum for voices, on either side, and that dialogue will happen.
The other thing is: I hope it causes even ONE person to get off their complaining duff and DO SOMETHING. That was t
The whole point of yesterday’s Che quote: if you can even spark something in one person, who knows where that lead.
I do kinda sorta expect something to come out of all this. I’m in the process of making connections to do just that: DO SOMETHING. I want to find a way to take this blog to “the streets” and help facilitate some change.
Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.
Thanks to this blog, I have had the GREAT fortune to become acquainted with Ms. Sharon Holzscherer Principal, Mississippi School for the Arts in Canada. I have really treasured our correspondence and phone discussions, and I plan to go to Canada sometime in the Fall to see her school in action. In regards to sharing her personal info here, Sharon said: “I am across the border and safe from witch burnings!”
(Sorry, but I had to do that! Well, I’m not really sorry, but…well, you know…if it floats like a duck…)
1. Why do you care about the educational system of today?
Education is the foundation of society. If we neglect the children then we can only imagine what kind of adults they will become. Education is the medium whereby we pass on history, culture, social mores, and skills. Without education each generation starts from the beginning as raw animals. Education, by the way, does not happen exclusively or even mainly in schools.
2. What is your background (short bio)?
I have been a teacher for over 20 years, in the private sector. I have, just recently, completed my Masters of Education. I am principal of a small private arts high school in Canada. I am also the very proud parent of 4 adult children, all products of my own educational views, and doing great!
3. What do you feel is an overriding problem(s) educators are facing today?
Educators are being asked to take over more and more of the responsibility for the raising of children as parents either abdicate their responsibilities or are too busy to fulfill them properly. Parenting is a full time job. Along with all this responsibility, teachers are being given less and less freedom and power. They are also attributed all the blame when society goes off the tracks.
4. How do you feel this problem (these problems) can be solved?
Teachers need to be respected for the professionals that they are. They need to be given the power and freedom to teach. However, they also need to have better training in pedagogical practices, apprenticeship programs for beginning teachers (at least two years), an independent self-governing body (like doctors and lawyers), and lose the union. They cannot have all the perks and safeties if they really want the freedom to do their jobs. No one can have it both ways. We turn our children over to teachers who have often had barely two years of training for lesson plans, etc. and minimal practical experience. Doctors and lawyers go to school and article or intern for several years. Are their professions harder than ours?
5. What changes/paradigm shifts do you feel are necessary?
Sir Ken Robinson!!! School is not a factory or production line. It is a garden where children grow, exposed to the best in all fields that our society can offer them. We need to rediscover the individual while instilling a respect for others. Nurture the single plant to support the whole garden.
6. What is your view on Process vs. Product?
Economics is not the basis for life. (Heresy! they scream. Burn her at the stake!) Truly, people, when everything is based on its monetary value then we are reduced to products. Production is a by-product of people being healthy, happy, and inspired. Bored, obese, resigned employees produce the minimum necessary to get by. Focus on the process and the product will take care of itself.
7. Do you believe Arts-In-Education are important? Yes or No, can you please explain why you feel that way?
Arts-in-Education are crucial. They not only pass on and develop the culture of a nation, without which a nation dies, but also stimulate creativity. Innovation is the tool of the future. It is always what has made America great – from its innovative approach to governing to its vision of reaching the moon. Imagination has much more power than complacency. Look at your history. When nations stopped doing new things and just strove for more and more of the old, they declined.
8. If you believe we should replace the Standardized Testing process, what form of assessment do you feel the students would benefit more from and the policy makers would be “happiest” with? If you agree with Standardized Testing, could you please explain why?
Standardized testing is a tool. It can be used for an appropriate reason, such as seeing if students need additional help or are too advanced for the proposed curriculum. It has got out of control whereby policy makers no longer care what is being tested as long as Americans score in the top two or three. This need to assess is based on a mistaken belief that teachers are wasting taxpayers’ money in classrooms. The money is being wasted at the bureaucratic level and they should be held accountable. When a doctor gives one a test, the doctor is not then assessed himself and the patient is not assessed against other patients. Let teachers, with their professional training, assess the children and discuss it with the parents. No one else should be concerned. As for the spending of taxpayer money, follow a dollar and truly show how little of it makes it to the teacher’s hand.
9. What role do you feel parents/guardians should have with the schools?
Parents are and always should be responsible for their children. Their job is to partner with the teachers and schools so that their children can be given the skills and knowledge that they cannot give. Schools should deal with academics and cultural experiences. Parents should deal with behaviour, mores, prejudice, respect, and responsibility. Parents should do their job and let the teachers do theirs.
10. You can create the ideal school: what THREE things must be in place that are non-negotiable?
1. Absolute control of the curriculum. 2. Absolute control of hiring and training the staff. 3. Clear understanding of the expectations of teachers and parents and students.
11. If you have one, what is your favorite quote dealing with education?
So many of them are negative that I have yet to find a really positive one that I like. I would welcome suggestions since I collect sayings )
12. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Until teachers leave the safety and comfort of their secure union jobs and truly demand the power and respect they need to do their jobs, there will be no reform. Teachers are the only ones with the knowledge and training to achieve relevant reform. “Life shrinks or expands in direct proportion to one’s courage.”
Thank you Sharon. Comments are Most Welcome!!! More of the Q&A to come!!