Although I have not seen the documentary Two million minutes yet, the description of how it follows students in China, India, and the United States through the two million minutes of “high school” makes me wonder what it will take to make this country realize that we cannot continue “do” high school like we have for the last century. Times, students, and the world have changed immensely and our school systems, particularly high schools, have not. Paris High School will be 100 years old next year and I would wager that a person who took classes in the 1930’s or any decade in the last 100 years, would not see much change if they walked into our classrooms today.
Why do we still use an agrarian calendar for school? Most advanced countries today send their kids to school for more than 200 days per year. The U.S. averages 176! Why do we have three months off? How much time do spend reviewing at the beginning of the year? Is that time well spent? Why do we still use property taxes as the basis to fund our schools? Instead of spending trillions of dollars on wars and sending a man to Mars, why don’t we build modern schools with air conditioning and technology that will challenge and engage our students and put them at an advantage in the global economy of the 21st century! It seems to me that if we do not invest in the future of our children, none of what we have planned will ever come to be. We as a country and community must quit talking about how important education is and do something about it!
OK so rapid change sounds a little scary, but so does falling behind and continuing to defend the status quo! What should we do? Continue to care about our students, continue to do everything we can to challenge them and engage them. We must make our classes relevant. We need to realize that most of our students today do not come into our classes the way we want them too, ready to listen, ready to work, ready to take notes. They do not blindly follow along because we say they need to. But more importantly……….
We need to build a vision as a community. We need to decide what our school needs to produce and work backwards from that product. We need to figure out how to best prepare our students to be life long learners and productive members of our community! It is not up to the school alone. It is not up to the community alone. It is not up to the students alone. It is not up to the parents alone. We must work together, each group taking responsibility and not pointing fingers, to create a school that we are not only proud of but also gives our students the best possible chance to succeed!
I leave you with this……
By Pete Reilly on Leader Talk:
…transforming our schools will take effective and committed leadership at every
level and from every individual. Transformation always begins with ME! Whether I
am a student, teacher, principal, superintendent, (parent or community member); it
is up to me to change. Teachers wait for the principal to make the changes, the
principal waits for the superintendent, the superintendent waits for the state
education department, and the state ed department waits for the feds. No one
wants to commit to going first. Everyone sees the problem somewhere else. We
think, “If only the (teachers, administration, parents, community, state ed, or
feds) “Got it!” things would surely change”