It is without question that my real education began after I left formally organized education programs. That was grade 1 through 12, a year of University and then 2 years of design school. All those classroom hours did was allow me the opportunity to get out in the world and start my life.
I made it through, albeit without a proper degree to show for my efforts. And that would come back to pose a bit of a problem later on. In a job that I landed in the USA, I had to jump through quite a few hoops in order to prove to the INS that I was worthy to do the job, given that I was short that all important degree.
What stuck with me all through my formal education was my parent’s advice – “school is what you make it.” It would of course be many, many years later that I would more fully understand that. But it gave me a sense that I had some measure of control, even while sitting in a classroom.
Fast forward to my children’s education. We have chosen to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. But one thing has always bothered me about British Columbia, right back to 1991 when I first moved here – the education system. Somehow when teacher’s “work to rule”, it takes a good deal of the fun out of a school day. There are just a few after school clubs or athletic programs left now. I noticed this long ago, but would not fully realize the consequences until very recently.
My son explained to me the other day that the best part of school was recess and lunch. I emphasized to him that he was missing the point of going to school if all he really enjoyed were those “social” activities. Or maybe I was missing the point. There are a number of basic skills that need to be taught and learned through the course of a basic education, but the current method of delivery leaves a lot to be desired.
Throughout this school year, my children have been subjected to a new kind of education. It takes the work to rule concept to a whole new level. The BC Teacher’s Union has been invoking a job action since the beginning of September. One of the ways they have been doing that is by not giving out grades or comments through the report card process. And now we get 3 days of no classroom instruction next week.
It is a failing on everyone’s part that the parties are fighting so bitterly. From all accounts this has been going on for longer than most of the membership on either side has been involved. It is an inherited problem.
So why is no-one talking about education reform or even revolution? Clearly the system we have is not working to anyone’s satisfaction.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~Albert Einstein
This is a case where we all need to start thinking differently. We need to imagine a better way and then create that future. As the situation stands now, everyone digs in their heels and holds ever more strongly to their, (usually self serving), opinions.
An inspirational video on TED by Sir Ken Robinson is titled, “Schools kill creativity“. In that talk, Ken Robinson puts forth a quote that would be sound for parents, teachers and the BC Government to think about:
“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
~December 1, 1862 Abraham Lincoln