Disclaimer. When I speak poorly of our traditional education system I am in no way speaking poorly of the individual teachers. I experienced quite a few great teachers and a few spectacular ones in my years in the system. And I now know several handfuls of fantastic teachers who work in public schools and I think you all are wonderful and am super grateful for the difficult task you choose to take on every day.
I think every passionate educator out there believes that children deserve to spend the majority of their time in an environment in which greatness is the norm rather than drudge their way through a place where great individual teachers have to work around an incredibly outdated system in order to effectively educate.
Do I sound bitter? I might still be a little bitter. After you trace a bunch of ‘truths’ you later learn are incorrect back to the place in which you spent the vast majority of childhood learning, it’s hard to not to get a little bitter. [It feels a bit like that sort of disillusionment people experience when they decide there is no God but then they have to go back and realize what they don’t believe in is all of these stories people made about God and redefine the whole thing for themselves. I DO believe in education. HALLLELUJAH!! What I do not believe in is sitting in desks all day having information spoon fed into my brain till it gets full then barfing it all back onto a page.] I’m not blaming anybody here. I’m just trying to figure out how to make this better, go back over my experience with education and sort out the old rotting fruit before it spoils all the good stuff and the fruit flies take over and those things will just not hesitate to land directly on an eyeball.
One unfortunate outcome of the traditional education system is teaching that learning goes in one direction: from teacher to student.
I still have this weird thing engrained in my head that tells me I should bow down a bit to every teacher because they know better than me. So for a minute I set every person who takes on any sort of teaching role up on a pedestal but then they start saying things I mildly disagree with and since they’re allll the way up there it seems a bit too difficult to make that climb and have a discussion so instead I just kick the pedestal out from beneath them and continue on my way. And I think I haven’t quite realized that this is what has been happening until now. Maybe if I stop sticking them up there in the first place we can talk about junk the whole time and just skirt the rest of that messy business. Teaching is a discussion. It goes both ways. The 1-3 years olds I work with every day have taught me just as much as I have taught them. I can also be equally stubborn about learning at times, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Another relatively tragic mentality pervades the general population: for the majority of the day, you’re likely to be at least mildly miserable. I think we can attribute that largely to the fact that children are forced into uncomfortable environments for six or so hours a day, nine months a year, during THE most formative years. These children who drag themselves to school every day will likely end up adults who drag themselves to work every day, convinced that work is a thing they’re not going to like to do but it’s ok because that’s just how this all works and sometimes they even get to have a vacation.
But a neat secret is that you can enjoy EVERY BIT of your time. Life is an ongoing educational process and learning things is always fun when we’re allowed to follow our interests and passions.
At this point I’m quite certain that a large portion of my immediate future will have education at its epicenter. [From there I’ll dance about and make a bunch of swirly arm movements in as many possible directions as I can manage.] I wonderfully stumbled across Montessori schools almost two years ago and have been pretty hooked ever since. How CONVENIENT that this woman spent the majority of her life painstakingly studying children and scientifically testing the ways in which they learn and then set up an environment in which materials are systematically placed according to the children’s individual interests and the children can then go discover these materials and manipulate them and learn from them and the educators are there to facilitate the natural learning process.
Take home message: Learning is neat. So is life.