Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What School Is

As you have probably noticed, the media doesn't particularly like school or teachers right now. Neither do politicians. And as a result, the general public doesn't seem to either. Normally my blog is full of cutesy stories about how awesome my kids are (and they are!!) but today I have to get on my soapbox for a minute. *Clears throat*

I've recently come across an increasingly frustrating number of Facebook posts, news articles, poems, memes, etc. in the past weeks and months about "what schools don't teach you", "how schools fail to educate students", "what your teacher didn't tell you", "what teachers/schools are doing wrong", or some other iteration of the failure of school to teach you everything about life that you (or politicians, or test writers) think you should know.

Here, in a nutshell, is the reality of schooling. Put your listening ears on, okay? Sit up straight, criss-cross applesauce, and look at the speaker. Ready?

School is not designed to be the beginning or the end of your education. School is simply a jump-off point for you to go and educate yourself. It is virtually impossible for teachers to teach everything they are supposed to teach you, everything they want to teach you, and everything you want to learn in the brief time they have to spend with you. The most important thing school should teach you is how to educate yourself. 

We teach you to read so that you can read novels, memoirs, blogs, newspapers, magazines, subtitles, financial reports, legal briefs, or movie scripts and look at them with a critical and/or appreciative eye. We teach you to write so that you can write a book, start a blog, or become a journalist or professor. We teach you mathematical concepts and skills so that you can balance your budget and manage your finances when you start your own company (or run someone else's).  We teach you history so that you can understand the present, avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and forge a better future. (We teach you literature so that you'll know it was a book before they make a movie out of it.) We teach you art so that you can see the beauty in the world around you, and create beauty in places where none is apparent.

You are in charge of your own choices and no matter what your school experience, it's up to you what you do with your life. So take the foundation you got from your schooling, combine it with your dream and run with it. School doesn't change the world. That part, my friend, is up to you. 

*Steps down*

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