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The real problem is systemic. How can we move teachers into the coaching role when they are held responsible for each student’s mastery. Realistically, coaching implies that the student decides how much s/he will invest. When you coach students are allowed to wash out. There is no allowance in the current system for this.
If we want education to work better, most of our communities need to do the hard work of changing. It means changing schools, teachers, parents, students, and administrators. Indeed, it means changing everything. This kind of systemic change takes time and and requires long-term consistency. People must relate to one another in ways beyond pointing fingers and suggesting that if we just had better prepared and serious teachers things would be better, or better parents, or better …………
Before we can make it better we must know what we want education to be. We must be a village to raise our children --- we must have trust in one another. We must have shared understandings about the kind of world we are educating children for. Until we understand what we want and where we want to go we won’t even be able to tell if we have arrived!
Most historians pinpoint the beginning of the modern educational reform movement to the publication of A Nation At Risk, by the Reagan administration's conservative Education Secretary, William Bennett. But in truth it goes back much further all the way to the writings and experience of John Dewey. To understand the scope of all this you must also become familiar with the writings of educational psychologists like Piaget, who wrote at the early part of the last century. By the time I was on my path, we had already experienced the first round of the Bennett driven educational reform. This reform focused on standardizing American Education and standardized testing.
I should insert here, the commentary of my grandmother and mother – both of whom tried to explain to me that all educational reform is cyclical and that I would soon discover that the ideas I subscribed to, would fall from favor and I would then watch as educational reform worked its way through constantly like a snake eating its own tail.
When I recognized that I was already in education, I decided to make the relationship formal. I returned to college and got my masters degree in Education! It was stimulating as I found many people who understood education as my grandmother did! Whole language was a philosophy and mirrored what I did as a librarian with literature and kids! You couldn’t bottle it, replicate it, or sell it! It was more like a disease -- an infection of educational curiosity. In this new world of educational reform I learned that students would be driven by delight and questioning! We would no longer be bound by the steel bands of skills alone. Of course, skills could not be under-rated! They were necessary, but not the goal of education. Skills helped kids acquire the tools to think. THINKING CRITICALLY was the goal. My professors understood that education was, as Dewey had seen it, related to personal experience! These were ideas I could give over my life to!! I graduated and looked around for a job in my "new-old" calling, education!