We’re not heating the outside! [use “cooling” when you read this in warmer climes]
OK, maybe that wasn’t the best analogy I could use, but a good number of us thought for a second that our dad wrote this entry. Either way, and in a way, we are watching our hard earned time and money go out the door as our potentially greatest resources are squandered in gross inefficiency. I suppose ‘not maintaining our car’ would be a somewhat better analogy. The jalopy I’m referring to is our education system [I use the term “system” loosely], the resources being our potential, as individuals. There’s not much consistency or efficiency in the current model, with the exception of all the great private, magnet, and charter schools trying their best to blaze new trails in academic progress. The current general standard is not even current, hardly standard, yet is quite general so much as to apply essentially the same instruction methodologies and procedures to essentially every child. This outdated paradigm has set off a vast multitude of “bigger picture” chains of events that have been corroding our productivity, ingenuity, and our economy. This, naturally, is not separate from the less tangibles such as happiness [individual and collective] and the motivation to want to do well and be good, for – as we’re witnessing in today’s [now global] economic crisis – everything is connected.
The way we view education in relation to it’s function in our society and economy reminds me of when my friends and I were starting a band in high school – we wasted so much time in the beginning thinking of a kick ass name for the band, totally neglecting to actually pick up our instruments and pound out and practice new material – we focused on the trivial first while neglecting the substance. We seem to be stuck in a short-sighted, disconnected mentality primarily focused on immediate to short term profits [at any cost – again, referring to our current crisis], an all-or-nothing, winner-takes-all, dog-eat-dog ultracapitalist mode. This is a great survival of the fittest model which has been the predominant flavor of capitalism in the past quarter century, but it is a new flavor and is still left unchecked. In this economic model, ethics are not only a liability, but a luxury which those who have to answer to shareholders cannot afford. Greed without scruples is now viewed as a healthy component of this new ultracapitalism. It worked well for Bernard Madoff [until December 11, 2008 – and he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for them meddling kids!] Sure, we still churn out amazing doctors and lawyers and research scientists, but not only not enough [at least, not enough of the highly talented caliber], but also, apparently, not ethical enough. We either have forgotten or have never learned that a solid foundation of a super efficient, super progressive education system is what will not only cement this country further as a world superpower and inspirational beacon of hope, but also sustain this status indefinitely.
Education and it’s function in society is, in and of itself, the initial investment in our socio-economic machine in which we all live in, work in, play in, participate in, contribute to, and ultimately, depend upon regardless of socio-economic status. It is the primary factor that determines the health of our nation. We are of one machine with many cogs, and the greater our investment in not only the quality of each cog, but also in the design, the greater return on our investment will be realized through the superior quality of our workforce. Since there are numerous areas of the education system that could use an overhaul [or redesign], the top three that should be addressed initially are as follows:
- INTELLIGENCE: First and foremost, how we view intelligence is a first step must in a complete education redesign. This has already been done quite successfully for many decades, but in such small numbers and in so many varying styles so as to remain mere specialties or niche methods [which, in a redesign, these valuable niche methods can still serve their purpose]. A good example and a logical starting point would be a comprehensive evaluation, comparison, and possibly the juxtaposition of the more successful components of theories and methodologies such as Reggio Emilia approach, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, Waldorf, Montessori, Triarchic theory of intelligence, and so on. We need to introduce new ways of teaching to every school in the country, from early childhood education centers to senior high schools.
- EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Invest from the start. A strong acorn will grow into a strong oak tree. Utilizing our new view of intelligence, we need to get every Early Childhood Education center on par with these approaches [Reggio is currently one of the more popular emerging approaches to ECE] and establish a large, permanent endowment for Early Childhood Development.
- INTELLECTUAL GIFTEDNESS: An immediate correction of the failures we have perpetuated towards our gifted children in the public schools must be implemented so as to give our beleaguered economy a much needed kick in the ass once our nurtured and guided gifties graduate and go on to explore their full creative and innovative potential.
I am tired now, so I will go more in depth on each of these three points another time, when I’m well rested. P.M. decongestant better kick in or T-bone will smother me in my sleep with her pillow!