This week’s content has me fired up! I am such an advocate of education, so I am a sucker for any inspirational talk that reminds me of my purpose. I am also a lover of any literature that challenges the norm in education. After all, education is about growth, right?
Ken Robinson is a funny guy with a good purpose: highlighting the issues in education. He immediately had my attention when he properly defined irony: No Child Left Behind. As a former high school English teacher, that legislation and the push for standardized testing left me frustrated on a regular basis. Ken points out the honest truth: standardized testing is a push for conformity—not diversity—and that alone is ruining the purpose of education. Testing should not be the dominant force; it should be an option some take to prove knowledge—not one that is mandated across the U.S. (T., 2013).
The problem with the standardized testing, among many, is that it pushed for rote memorization, which ties into one of Langer’s seven myths about education (2016). This is not real learning! Moreover, in non-memorization based subjects, like English, it was nearly impossible to prepare students for the tests because they were full of content that was watered down, poor applications of useful skills. Essentially, the way to be a successful teacher is to teach to the test—not to the content. This defeats the entire purpose. However, if you were a history teacher (please don’t get mad, Dr. Nelson!), then your job was easy: teach the facts. You’ll be fine.
All of these thoughts got me thinking about my least favorite quote of all time: “Those who can do, and those who can’t teach.” It basically implies that teachers are less than; they might know the facts, but they cannot apply them well enough to be successful in the real world. Ken Robinson highlights what teachers do that goes far beyond the content: they mentor, they provoke, they engage (T., 2013). Education happens in the classrooms, the hallways, the lunchrooms, and more—not in committee meetings. Teachers deserve all of the respect in the world, so I live by a different version of that quote: “Those who can teach, and those who can’t do.”
If you’re looking for another video to get you fired up about education (and that quote), spend three minutes watching this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGKm201n-U4. It’s a little edgy, but it reiterates the truth: teachers make a difference.
Langer, E. J. (2016). The power of mindful learning. Hachette UK.
(2013, May 10). How to escape education’s death valley | Sir Ken Robinson. Retrieved September 6, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc&feature=youtu.be