While working on a project for a client, I came across this article: The School Day of the Future is Designed by Sandy Speicher. I thought it made several great points. The project is for a client who runs private schools that fit perfectly with what the author is discussing.
But what I personally found compelling is that in the process of making her argument, Speicher articulates all the reasons for homeschooling. Here are a few quotes:
Elliot Eisner, one of my favorite education professors, often asked the question, “If aliens landed on our planet and walked into our schools, what would they think the school is meant for?” We’d brainstorm: Learning to sit in rows? Learning to get up and move en masse at the sound of a bell? Learning to stay in place for 40-minute increments? Learning to override your bodily functions? Learning to answer the questions that the person standing in front of the room already knows the answer to? It’s hard not to realize that a school, upon pure observation, looks like a training ground for behavioral management.
One thing to keep in mind, of course, is that not every child is starting in the same place, and not every child is headed toward the same place. Some need freedom in order to learn. Some need structure. Some need a mix. But all need respect for their individuality, trust in their abilities to succeed, and adults who have the foresight to design experience to bring out individual greatness.
All of these innovative models are showing us that incredible results, and experiences are possible when we design the school day with the needs of the student in mind. The historic “one-size-fits-all” model of set periods of time with groups of somewhere between 20-30 kids lined up in rows and one teacher in the front of the room orchestrating the conversation…. well, Sage on Stage, Chalk and Talk, and Spray and Pray might just have met their match.
The school day of the future will be unpredictable, inconsistent, and designed to be wildly relevant for the learner, their engagement, and their development.
I definitely am not going to argue with Speicher about the ineffectiveness of the current classroom model. I strongly agree that personalized education is a huge improvement over what is currently going on in most classrooms. The big problem is that while all of this sounds good in theory, how in the world will public schools (and most private schools, for that matter) truly implement something like this? My client is doing this very thing and they are doing it very successfully. But the parents are paying big bucks to get this kind of one-on-one education for the child. There is simply no way most urban schools or even suburban schools can do something like this.
The schools are really stuck. I think that the desire is there among many of the leaders, teachers and students to have what this author discusses in the article. But it takes money and exceptionally gifted teachers to do what is being described. Where will the money come from when schools are facing shrinking revenues and there is zero indication this is going to change any time soon?
And, no, I don’t think any certified teacher can do this in a classroom. Not because teachers are stupid, but because many (most?) of them don’t have the skills needed to do this. You are talking about an incredible level of multi-tasking, planning and evaluation here.
In addition, there aren’t enough hours in the day, even if you do have the money and skills. How can one teacher possibly offer this kind of education to a class of 20-30 students? He can’t. There isn’t enough time in the day. And with class sizes set to rise in many schools due to decreased funding and/or families that can’t afford private school tuition any longer, I don’t see how this can possibly be the education of the future except for some very lucky students scattered here and there across the country.
I’ve had a few moments (okay, hours) lately when I’ve felt that strong temptation to just put Caroline on a school bus this fall and be done with it. It is easy to look at it through rose-colored glasses and think that it would be so much easier to put her in school. But every time I feel that pull, God sends something like this to remind me that no matter which mode of education you choose, there is going to be tremendous sacrifice involved. And every time I look at the options and the sacrifices associated with each, I come back to homeschooling as the best option for our family.
I truly believe education is about so much more than learning to control your bodily functions until it is time for an official bathroom break. It is about so much more than spending literally hours practicing how to line up and turn in your papers the correct way. I quit teaching because school drove me nuts. I loved teaching. I hated dealing with school. What Speicher is talking about here is teaching and education at the highest level, not school. School is the very thing that will keep this from happening across the country in the future.