by Sharon Crawford. She is a retired English/History teacher who taught at Orangeview Junior High, in the Anaheim Union High School District.
“School sucks.” “School is boring.” “I will never have a use for this information — why learn it?”
As a teacher in the state of California, I hear this every day from my students. I am given a curriculum that requires students to pass a multiple choice test on a series of standards in basically the areas of English and math, while everything I read from fellow educators agrees with what I know to be true — this does not give our children the skills they need to thrive in the world beyond childhood.
Employers and colleges both feel that they are not getting students that are prepared to be an active part of higher education or the job market, and they are right. Changes have to be made at the grassroots level – in the classroom and through the school boards. While most schools have been emphasizing skills that enable a student to do well on a multiple choice test because funding is tied to the success or failure of students applying this particular skill, student mastery of life skills such as creative problem solving, critical thinking, and communication in today’s technologically demanding world have been put on the back shelf. There is finally a glimmer of hope that this is changing — that higher thinking is not a lost art in America, and California in particular. This hope is found in the form of P21.
It is this hope that leads me to support the Our Future Now efforts to empower students to share their combined voices with the local school boards and city governments. We need to hear from those most closely affected – the future leaders and workers that will run our society soon. Even though this will impact students most directly, it will also shape the future of our country and our ability to participate in the global economy.
Our country has been gifted with an impressive array of talented people. We have been the innovative leaders in so many areas, and now is the time to apply that innovation and creativity to our most important resource — the minds of our youth. Bringing creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills back to the classroom may just save America.
Fighting wars around the world and freeing other nations from tyranny will not make a difference if we lose what America has always stood for at home. Students, parents, educators, and government leaders all need to stand together to effectively provide our youth with the education they need and deserve. Urging the system to listen to the voices of our youth will help make this happen.