a possibly unpopular gripe
you know what bugs me so much? people who don’t work in education saying something like this:
School should teach life skills, like paying taxes or paying bills or how to balance a checkbook, and spend less time on stuff kids are never going to use, like algebra and history.
here’s why i hate it. those tasks, while very useful, require the ability to read basic directions and utilize tools like the internet to define basic terms. also, there are many resources that the average person can access to guide them through these processes. also, i actually do expect that when my students graduate, they can read and follow directions and access resources to learn new things. these learning skills are part of the capacity building that many schools employ when teaching their students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers.
also, like, you know who else complains that students never learn anything useful? STUDENTS. and students aren’t always the best judge of whether they are learning at all…have you ever heard a student say “we never do anything in here” even though you are building beautifully scaffolded lessons and your students are demonstrating growth and learning your content? yeah, me too.
meanwhile, we live in a country where lots of people think that the mainstream media just MAKES UP the news and that memes on Facebook are reliable sources of information, adults in charge of making decisions for the nation literally refuse to collaborate with one another, and people who sit in the highest offices demonstrate an utter disdain for critical thinking. we need close readers and critical thinkers. we need scientists and historians and people in all fields who value numbers and data, who aren’t afraid to ask tough questions, and who are willing to listen to voices vastly different from their own.
one might say that it’s the value of budgeting one’s money, or the cold hard reality of how taxes really affect ones earnings that really needs teaching, but to that i would say, they do learn those things. the republicans just passed a ridiculous tax bill. do you think kids across the country aren’t reading about this in their econ and government classes? do you think that in the push to provide access to college for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds that educators aren’t prepping students to understand the difficulties of taking care of one’s self?
this, to me, is just more of the disrespect and misunderstanding that plagues educators and the education systems, and it’s a lot of white noise that jams up the frequency when people who actually know what they are talking about…like people who work in schools…can speak about what their students are actually doing and what types of changes would make schools better.
if your highest aspiration for our young people is that they learn how to do something that a website will do for them for free, then i would say it’s not teachers who are failing kids.