In my first article, I spoke of a better way for educating our children. I want to begin to look at that now. I have been an educator for over forty years. I have taught almost every grade from kindergarten through college, in a wide variety of socio-economic and cultural settings. I spent many years in public schools and colleges. I was on the founding board of a charter school and now have founded a school in conjunction with my private foundation. I have participated in numerous consultative endeavors throughout our country. I approach this moment of time as one of the most critical of my life's journey. The public education system is unhealthy. Alternatives to public education hold promise, but need the same guidelines of wisdom from which all may partake.
In my book, Education As It Could Be, I try to create a place of refuge for our hopes and dreams. I relate stories of children whose lives were transformed through teaching and learning practices that are meaningful, appropriate for their individual needs, and give joy to the student and teacher. I provide detailed information about Educational Psychology and Human Growth and Development. I help readers envision environments that invite learners to respect teachers and mentors...develop a desire for knowledge and wisdom...utilize individual talents and abilities. My book strives to inform...parents, grandparents, teachers, and policymakers.
I am presenting an outline of considerations for change. I will elaborate on each of these in future articles. I always think of a plan as fluid...It can be refined by new perspectives and understandings. As I write on these topics over time, I will incorporate your thoughts and ideas as you graciously share them with me.
I. Standardized testing is not a meaningful measure of success for our students, teachers, and schools. We will explore alternatives for creating goals and evaluating achievement.
II. Schools must not be pressured to cover too much, too quickly. We will look at ways to develop mental concepts through experiences. We will see how to build a solid foundation for life-long learning...a foundation that will not crumble from the weight of inadequate structures.
III. We need less government involvement and more local decision making. We are wasting money, time, and resources. National, bureaucratic programs drain us of our energy and creativity.
IV. We need balanced use of technology. Our educational system has exhibited "blind faith" that more technology will bring us the excellence and world notoriety we seek. We will be reminded of the value of our natural world and the necessity for healthy interpersonal relationships.
V. We can restructure learning environments that are institutional and prison-like into ones which are more natural and comfortable. We must strive to remove stress, fear, and anxiety that come from a feeling of confinement. We will discuss ways to create inviting, engaging environments that draw learners and teachers to places of physical, mental, emotional, and social fulfillment.
VI. Classroom management strategies that rely on medicating students, isolating students for long periods of time, and gimmicks like candy, money, and traffic lights must be replaced with appropriate, respectful methodologies that transfer effectively into real life.
VII. We need to design teacher education programs in colleges and universities that encourage the development of appropriate learning environments and assessments. We need to give our future teachers dreams of a wholesome world environment that will readily translate into a classroom. We need to give our present educators inspiration and courage to confidently present paradigms that could make our system flourish.
VIII. We need to inform our nation of the critical issues and provide models for modification and models for a fresh start.
IX. We need leaders who have walked the well-worn paths of education and who have bravely carved their own for the heralding of noble practices. They see the journey as one in which all learners move forward...not in a race, but starting from their own place. Then, with appropriate teaching, learners move forward...never stopping, never looking back, never failing.