Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Challenges in Education

This post corresponds to day #17 of the +TeachThought 30-day blogging challenge, focused on reflective teaching through blogging. Click here to learn more about the challenge!

Teaching is a tough job.
We navigate financial hardship, lack of resources, time crunches, language barriers, lost homework, keeping up with new initiatives, and the need to meet each of our students where s/he is at.  All while simultaneously trying to teach the content and language students are expected to learn this year.

But, if I had to choose the biggest challenge in education today, I'd have to go with the pressure and focus on standardized test scores.  The importance placed on achieving a certain score on a standardized test is enough to cause major stress for the student, family, and teacher.  The part that I see as the biggest challenge is that the standardized tests of today really aren't able to get at some of the overarching skills that will help our students be successful throughout their educational and professional careers: perseverance, problem solving, collaboration, innovation, creativity, critical thinking, self-directed, good communicator, etc...  Additionally, the time spent preparing students to take standardized tests often takes away from other content areas and projects that would continue to develop students' habits of mind.

Have you ever watched Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk entitled "How Schools Kill Creativity"?  In it, Sir Ken talks about the importance of giving kids the chance to be wrong -- yes, to fail -- to make mistakes and to learn how to learn from their mistakes.  The pressure kids face with standardized tests does not exactly set the stage for the mindset that failure is an important part of learning.

There are many challenging issues in education today, but for me this issue stands out.  As Sir Ken Robinson says at the end of his TED talk, "Our task it to educate childrens' whole being so they can face the future...because we may not see the future, but they will, and our job is to help them make something of it."  #philosophicalfoodforthought