June 1st, 2020

Kids aren't livestock - let's stop treating education like factory farming

I'm hearing about more surveys, ON TOP OF ALL "REMOTE-LEARNING" - and I get an instant, physical response to this approach: our students aren't cattle who are just needing to be moved through the stockyard to get food (or in this case, "learning").

We don't just "get services" to these young scholars - these are individuals just like us. We are helping to build the bedrock of society as educators - we are contributing to key periods of brain growth. As such, we must forge relationships with students, cultivate connections with families - not just once a year on a back-to-school night designed to talk at parents- but truly create a space where our communities can support each other through community events (like food festivals - yes, we should bring those back) & where parents can contribute in meaningful ways to their child's education. The most efficient way to know our students is to know their families- & the better we understand where they are coming from, the more effectively we can teach them.

There are no shortcuts to this work: it takes time. It takes having fewer students, more teachers. It implies that a teacher may stay with a student for more than one year - that this is a good thing. No shortcuts means the administration and the teachers may well need training in the summer in order to implement needed up-grades to our routines. No shortcuts means faculty meets for several days together prior to the start of school - not to be talked at, but in order to do get-to-know you activities. Such meaningful opportunities to bond may lead us to find our yearly personal goals or to simply share honestly with our colleagues. Only in this way, when we bond like a family unit, with all of our diversity, can we fully support a similarly nurturing, safe learning environment committed to excellence, for our students.

Smaller student to teacher ratios (COVID-19 demands it, now); longer planning periods for our own recovery & ability to bond as a faculty are a start. Then, we as teachers will find common purpose & may have the support we need to reach for excellence, beauty & achieving our goals in teaching. Let's make education truly inspiring once more. Let's quit the "survival mode" mindset & dedicate ourselves to establishing the kind of workplace we want for ourselves & the kind of learning environment we envision for students.

We are better than this. And while it sickens me (and every person who drives past it) to see animals kept in cramped quarters & fed in an impersonal, stockyard environment; it is ten times worse when I see my countrymen's children- MY STUDENTS - being herded through hallways in the same dehumanizing way.

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Comments (3)

Comments (3)

"Let's quit the "survival mode" mindset & dedicate ourselves to establishing the kind of workplace we want for ourselves & the kind of learning environment we envision for students. "

This resonated with me. It's a Potluck - not TopChef. Imagine what would happen if we changed the game set up where we are not striving or encouraging participants to be Top Chefs but bringing our own unique dishes to the community.

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America has long since entered the Knowledge-Age of Teaching and Learning to your point, our schools have yet to advance. COVID19 has primmed K-12 education for the inevitable paradigm shift to a student-centered education system. Automation replaced manufacturing jobs lost to trade-agreements leaving K-12 in the Industrial-Age paradigm for two generations as Superman has yet to arrive.

The teacher shortage in Ca along with our baby booming seniors presents an opportunity. Given the challenge of and third grade an indicator for future success, front load early grades with additional teachers to reduce class sizes and increase early focus. In a student-centered system, the focus shifts to subject mastery as opposed to the hoarding of which you speak.

If we embrace students learning potential and professional interests through the use of technology, I believe like-minded scholars will work well with one another. Our baby booming seniors have not slowed, perhaps many will become subject area mentors once kids reach high school. In either case, K-12 will benefit its students best transforming into an open system.

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Being fully present with each child, even if only for brief moments, is nourishment for their (and our) hearts and spirits ... in legitimate, scientifically verifiable ways. Building belonging benefits everyone in every way... it's the new paradigm that's waiting to be adopted ... (with or without resistance).

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