27 October 2012

The Public Education System: A Vacuum of Creativity

I always said I would never be a teacher. Ever. It was the furthest possible career path from my radar.

And then I went on a mission and ironically my favorite moments were when I was teaching. I was in my element.

But I still had no desire to be a teacher. In a classroom. With students whose minds I could mold. Wearing a vest with felt cut-outs of snowmen in winter and Easter eggs in spring. Assignments to give and assignments to grade and rules to enforce and corny mnemonic devices to invent to help the little brats learn the order of American presidents.

One day, whilst still in Romania, I happened into a conversation with a 16-year-old boy who had no idea who Adolf Hitler was [if you ask me what Adolf Hitler had to do with this conversation, I honestly can't tell you. I was probably using him as some horribly extreme, tasteless metaphor for something]. I could hardly wrap my mind around the fact that this boy knew absolutely nothing of Europe's greatest genocide and the man who perpetrated it. After all, it practically took place in his backyard.

Suddenly I was interested in the public education system of Romania. And after much research and reflection, that interest is not only still burning, but it has expanded to the system in my own country.

Oh and let's not forget that somehow, randomly, I end up teaching Romanian at BYU my last year of undergrad.

There seems to be some sort of invisible force, pushing me towards education. No matter where or how hard I try to venture in other directions, I find myself continually pulled back.

I am not a natural learner. Good grades happened in my life, but they didn't come easily. Unbeknownst to many [including myself], I struggled quite a lot through secondary and post-secondary education, seemingly running triple the paces to keep up with my peers who appeared to produce extraordinary work so much more easily than I could. I wasn't always aware I was working harder--I thought it was equally difficult for everyone. Turns out that wasn't always the case. In no way did this realization cause me to doubt my intelligence--I knew I was bright, smart, creative. But test scores rarely reflected either of those things. Instead of questioning my intelligence, I questioned the system. It works for many, but not all. This system of teaching to examinations and grading students based on the scores they receive is a creativity killer. It is easy and logical, but it marginalizes a massive portion of learners whose learning styles simply just don't match up.

I love the way Sir Ken Robinson sees it. Creativity falls by the wayside in our current, exam-driven, bureaucratic public education system. Before we know it, the brilliant, inventive young minds who enter kindergarten at age 5 are sucked dry of innovation by the time they graduate high school at age 18. This isn't to say that our nation's school are filled with a bunch of brainless walking corpses, but just think how different the atmosphere would be under a system that fostered creativity!

Suddenly I'm interested in education reform.

Funny where life leads you.

My lovely students of Romanian 100, Winter Semester 2012

1 comment:

  1. haha I feel exactly the same way! And I looove what Robinson has to say about it. So good.