I am sitting here in Oregon, USA in complete shock this morning.
I woke up this morning and went down to the breakfast room as normal. The TV was on and on it was the breaking news of a horrific school shooting in Connecticut, USA. As many as 27 students and teachers could be dead. Students and teachers who were going about their own business in the safe environment of school. I met a bunch of wonderful teachers from Connecticut just last week and I feel physically ill, hoping that they are safe.
Watching this sickening event unfold I went through several emotions, eventually ending in realisation and anger.
What the heck are we doing?
We have become so caught up in the rat race that we have forgotten the central most important thing about schools, schooling and education. The most crucial and simple fact:
We are dealing with humans.
Young humans who will grow up to be older humans.
We have been so caught up arguing about where we rank in the world for test scores, about our reading levels and our declining ability in maths and science. Countries are redesigning their entire school curriculums in order to improve their test scores to improve funding and improve their numbers. We have been collecting numbers, analysing numbers and even triangulating numbers. We have been giving ourselves numbers and comparing our numbers to the rest of the worlds’ numbers. Is THAT the purpose of our education system? Is THIS why we all signed up to be teachers? So we could really all be number crunchers?
Enough is enough!
It is time to take a stand and stop this lunacy. It is time to stand up for the real purpose of education: to educate children to become successful and contributing members of a global society.
This isn’t something that can’t be tested or even ranked. It IS something however that will make a difference to a better future for our whole world.
For Australia this means placing much more emphasis on the General Capabilities in the National Curriculum. Why aren’t these abilities assessable? What message does that send to educators in our country? Until these capabilities are taken seriously and made compulsory they are simply a token gesture towards acknowledging that 21st century skills are important. Australia needs to take the lead from Victoria’s Essential Learning Standards and make these 21st century skills an assessable outcome (Interpersonal Development, Personal Learning and Thinking Processes).
For America this means acknowledging that while the Common Core subjects are important, you are missing a hugely important element from your core- the human element. Educators and school administrators need to ask how far your children will have progressed towards the ultimate goal of becoming successful and contributing members of a global society if they are only exposed to the current Common Core standards?
It is time we, as a global society, took a stand against the emphasis placed on world rankings in education. It is time we started focusing on what really matters and what can’t be tested.
United, we need to stop the lunacy and be the change.
My thoughts go out to all of the people and families involved in this horrific event. I know I won’t ever forget this day and will pledge to do my part in attempting to prevent anything of this nature ever happening again.