Occupy the Classroom

The International Student Movement is calling for a Global Education Strike. This is an opportunity for students, parents and teachers to stand up! Teachers, how often do you take work home with you? How often to you see a student struggling but are unable to give them extra help due to time constraints in your daily schedule? How often do you see children who are malnourished, emotionally unstable, and struggling through the day-to-day routine?

When I first began the study of Education, I had an image of helping children understand the joy of learning, the excitement of exploration, the activity of reading, the infinite wonder of numbers. Except today’s teachers are not allowed to actually guide their young charges in Learning. They must instead dictate, recite, and conform to a standard so rigid that creativity and joy are squashed before a child even leaves primary school. Children are learning hypocrisy early, because questions are discouraged. We want children to be able to read and write so they may be functioning members of society, but we don’t offer them subjects relevant to their daily lives and personal interests. We want children to rise Above the Influence, but we won’t raise wages and offer rehab before prison, so their parents can get off the dope too.

I am today disturbed by what children are not learning. There is no one entity to blame; we have all failed them in our downward spiral. I know children entering Kindergarten who do not know their shapes and colors, children entering 3rd grade who cannot tell time on a traditional clock-face, children leaving 5th grade with a 2nd grade reading level, doomed to fall behind their counterparts in middle school and high school. When the national drop-out rate is 50% it’s time to see that we’ve gone in a wrong direction, excluding information and facts because they are counter to some religious beliefs.

As a parent, I’m very concerned with the further defunding of public schools. Here in Topeka our schools are so broke parents have to provide Kleenex and hand soap and disinfectant wipes. I worry that if the Republicans get their way we’ll be back to schooling only children with means, and children in poverty may lose the one hot meal they get every day.

Teachers are caregivers, and for some students, teachers are surrogate mothers and fathers. How can teachers leave their students? I would ask teachers to, instead of leaving the school house; teach information outside the dictated curriculum. Take lessons outside. 15min of recess is not enough. Incorporate math and reading into outdoor activities. Our school has a large play yard and shade trees out front; start a discussion group about the reading material. Get to know the parents and recruit them into the classroom on a regular basis, not just for parties. We’ve heard of the term “unschooling;” allow your classroom this year to learn what they choose to learn. If grassroots movements are to begin in local neighborhoods, then the school classroom is Ground Zero, especially in Kansas. TEACH DARWIN!

P.S. If you still don’t know Ken Robinson, dear reader, WAKE UP!



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