User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

The Most Honest 3 Minutes

with 3 comments

(the “truth” about living in the US – contains some curse words . . . really becomes powerful at 2:10)

The first step to solving a problem is to recognizing there is one.

My “three minutes” on education in the United States . . .

The United States provides free education to every one of its citizens. This is an amazing right. Young people and parents in some third world countries fight for this right.  So when did education become more about the test scores than about the learners’ passions?  Teachers have become more focused on test preparation than on the preparation of creative, engaging learning activities.  Horace Mann, John Dewey, and Maria Montessori are identified as some of this country’s greatest educational philosophers.  Why are educators giving them more lip service than providing services and activities in the classroom based on their ideas and principles? Why has the classroom become a place of more frowns and moans than of smiles and laughing?  Why are kids running out of their classrooms at the end of the day rather than running into them at the beginning of each school day with excitement of a new day of learning?  Why are far too many teachers hurrying to turn off the classroom lights at the end of the school day rather than staying a little longer to figure out how to turn on the lights in children’s minds? When have classrooms become places of discouragement and disillusionment rather places of enlightenment?  When are teachers going to remember why they became teachers?  When are teachers going to revisit the idea that the legacy they leave will not be how many worksheets and tests they gave, but in how many sparks they helped ignite in their learners?

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Powerful questions and observations…
    Why can you make a difference in your classroom, Jackie? I have been following your blog for sometime and am constantly inspired. Why is it that you are an exception, rather than the norm?
    I think the problem is larger than individual teachers, the incentives of the system, the nature of leadership positions in a District as politicians and compliance enforcers will have sustaining and unbearable presssure on most teachers to not grow to greatness. As long as administrators are focused on staff centered classrooms and not the students (a much as the lip service is on being student centered, it does not happen). The really great ones like you can fight the external pressures to remain in mediocrity. have worked in education at the leadership level many years, and was always aghast at the converstaions in “leadership councils”. It many times is about power and influence, even seeing parents and students as the enemy. Not all places are like this, but, too many are. You and other teachers like you are glimmers of light in a black hole, some will get enough velocity to escape and share their light with others, most are not as strong, and will reamin in the dark. Keep making great things happen and sharing your light, but, until the rules and structure changes, I fear nothing at scale will change.

    This week I had a discussion with a teacher, who beleives and wants to do great things for her kids. The kids were reading a book that was determined to be a grade level higher, but, the kids loved the book and it kindled their imagaination. The principal came in and litterally forced the kids to stop reading the book (they were in the middle of reading it) and hand them in to the Principal. The teacher was powerless to stop it. Sad..sad…sad…


    John Miller

    August 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    • The whole system – makes teachers and students in small commodities towards the bigger picture of accountability which, sadly, has little to do with teacher passion and student learning. I find your comment “unbearable presssure on most
      teachers to not grow to greatness” to be sadly the norm. I intentionally sought positions, PE and gifted education, where I could design my own curriculum and stay true to my values and ideals. I tell my pre-service teachers, especially the passionate ones, to find districts, schools, principals who will nourish their ideas – they do exist!

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      August 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  2. Jackie, I think lots of educators are asking these questions. It doesn’t seem as though the focus on testing and standards upon standards will disappear soon. So, my question is: How can we re-engage teachers and learners in the joy, passion, and work of learning within the standards/testing system.


    August 29, 2012 at 1:37 am

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