for quite some time, i’ve been a relatively outspoken proponent of public education. quite frankly, i wish it was the only system of education we had (for many and varied reasons). my feelings have only grown stronger over the last month as lucy—our oldest child—has started pre-K.
editorial note: some have scoffed at the idea of pre-K being any kind of measure of public schools, so let me clarify that lucy is part of a little rock public school pre-K program where her class is fully streamlined into a regular public school. in her case, it’s gibbs magnet elementary school. she’s in a regular classroom just like K-5. she has regular school hours, has the same core curriculum, eats in the same cafeteria and uses the same playground (and has the same nagging PTA…). it really is an integrated program that acclimates both students and parents into the ecosystem of the greater school.
one of the things i’m keenly aware of—relative to my advocacy of public schools—is that the public education system isn’t healthy. for various reasons, i certainly think it’s healthier than private or home school alternatives, but nevertheless, it’s a long way from where it should and could be.
in my early 20s, i used to gripe to my dad quite a bit about being frustrated with the church/denomation i was serving in at that time. he used to constantly tell me, “you have to decide if you’ll be the kind of person who stays and affects change from the inside or if you’ll just take your ball and leave.” well, i took my ball and left. 🙂 but in the case of our children’s education and public schools in general, i’m choosing to be someone who gets involved and attempts to be a positive force for change.
i’m not under some magical spell where i think i’m gonna be a modern day moses for the public education system, but i’m absolutely certain that one of the crucial factors in our education systems is that when parents who actually care are involved, everyone is better off. in fact, i believe the deficiencies in public school performance—relative, especially, to private schools—has largely been a parental involvement issue, rather than an issue with the system itself (largely, the systems are identical).
with that said…
i absolutely believe there are some serious systemic problems that must change in order to better engage and prepare our students for life beyond school. of course, these aren’t singularly the problem of public schools. they are existent in private schools and virtually every educational model we have. on a macro level, they’re broader cultural issues pertaining to what defines success. on the micro level, i could make of list of all the problems (like standardized testing, a focus on “climbing the ladder”, economic disparity, and i’ll throw in standardized testing again for good measure) but a video i came across does a much better job of looking at both the macro and micro levels of our educational models.
you might have seen this video (which i found on tony jones’ blog). it’s from cognitive media in association with rsa and it outlines some of the history and challenges of our current educational paradigms. i found the discussion about ADHD particularly interesting as well as the history of our current systems. as a bonus, not only is it a great informational video but the illustration is truly amazing.
check it out here and see what you think.