Ken Robinson and I are kindred spirits in our philosophies of education! I greatly enjoyed watching his talk and hearing how eloquently he put many things that I already believe. I whole-heartedly agree with the need for a true revolution in education. For many years, I have been appalled by the state of the United States’ public K-12 education system as I have seen evidence time and again of the emphasis on homogenization and standardization at the expense of student learning. Teachers have frighteningly little wiggle room within the curriculum to tailor their courses to the students they are teaching. Now, this works well for reducing the harm that a not-so-great (or -interested or -engaged) teacher can do to her students… but it puts a wet blanket on teachers who are inspired, talented, and well-equipped to truly foster learning and development in their students.
I have long said that my K-12 education primarily taught me to be a good student, that is, to play the game. When I got to college, I realized this quite painfully. I didn’t know how to think. I unraveled when structure of assignments was removed. I had none of the practical abilities that I needed to succeed in life.I was accustomed to being told exactly what was wanted and then doing just that. I had to completely restart my education after I graduated high school and I have never entirely let go of my bitterness over that. I also struggled with being creative. At all. I distinctly remember having a vivid imagination as a child and I lost it. I had learned early on that creativity was not valued, that doing the assignments as expected and receiving the praise of a good grade was what was important. I feel like my K-12 education did me very little service.
I want so badly for our education system to be revolutionized but I feel utterly hopeless that it will be in my lifetime. I don’t want my son to go through the education system like I did and I hope that I will be able to home-school him, or at the very least get him into an alternative school program that will provide him with opportunities to be his best self — and not to be a good student.