10.03.2010

Kryptonite.

Every time I turn on the television news lately I’m alerted to the sad state of American public education. Apparently, teachers, administrators, and everyone down to the cafeteria staff are in the middle of the crisis of our lifetime. Supposedly we’re all waiting for Superman to come save our education system. There’s only one problem. He’s already here.

Not just superman, but Spiderman, Batman, and certainly, Wonder Woman are in classrooms making a difference in the lives of children one lesson and smile at a time. They realize there are obstacles to overcome, but each morning they arrive with the optimism of Pollyanna, hoping, knowing they will make an impact and become someone’s hero.

No doubt there are a few Lex Luthors, Jokers, and Green Goblins lurking about, but in my humble (and I hope not too naïve) opinion, even they want what’s best for the students in their classes… they’ve just lost their way, lost sight of the excitement and energy that brought them to education in the first place.

As I watch politicians, businessmen, and even evening news anchors try to solve the ‘crisis’ in the American education system, I can’t help but wonder where are the teachers? Who asks us for guidance and opinions? From what I gather, the solution might just be money. It appears the more money you throw at a problem, the easier it is to solve. Problem is, with the cool crisp air of autumn, the money tree seems to have lost most of it’s leaves.

As we wait (and wait…) for Superman, let’s not forget, even if he decides to show up, Lex Luthor always managed to find a shard of kryptonite to foil his plans. As we see the focus on test scores increase it appears the system is falling harder and faster than ever. We need to remember a huge part of our jobs as educators (and parents, and friends…) is to instill a love of learning in our sprouts. We need to show them the value of eye contact and a firm handshake is just as important as a high score on an assessment. Perhaps the answer to our children’s future isn’t going to be found in a bubble filled in with a number two pencil, but in the smile of a hero.

15 comments:

Linda said...

Amen!

Teacher Tom said...

It strikes me too, Matt, that the politicians, business people and news anchors never think to ask teachers what they think ought to be done.

The other day I was discussing (okay, arguing about) this very topic with a friend (a businessman). I made this very point and he answered, "What do teachers know about education?" Seriously.

In a conversation with a different person I fell back on the bromide, "Of course we can't just throw money at the problem," and this friend answered, "How do you know? We've never tried it."

John Spencer said...

Perhaps the testing system is the kryptonite.

Knaus said...

In the spirit of Oktoberfest: Oi, Oi, Oi!!! Agreed on all points.

Miss Holly said...

Here here, John Spencer, you said it!!

zookeepr said...

I am a high school teacher and your words still ring true. It's a very sad state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

TO add to that... It might be a problem in education but kids and parents need to take responsibility as well. I had 3 parents show up to back to school night out of 17 families. If they show lack of support in kindergarten it is only going to get worse in the next 12 years of school.

123A2Z said...

Well said, Mr. H. The Education Nation forum last week brought out a lot of good ideas and points as well. NEA Today had a very interesting article on how Finland improved its education system in just a decade (and money was not the key factor).
I'm one of those 'Pollyannas'. I agree that the superheros have been in the classroom all along. Their 'Clark Kent' cover doesn't get them noticed, because they're busy taking care of their student's learning needs.

Joan said...

Wonderful post! The super heroes are there, in the classroom. But dang it, those kids need heroes at home too and too many don't.

Theresa Milstein said...

Great analogy. Point well taken. There are many, many wonderful teachers out there making a difference everyday and our children are better for it. We know who those teachers are, so why not ask them what they do?

Lisa said...

"I can’t help but wonder where are the teachers? Who asks us for guidance and opinions?" True story. I strongly feel that our legislators would make better decisions for our students if they spent time in our classrooms! It's not that they don't have good ideas, it's that their ideas are idealistic and don't actually work in a real world classroom with actual students who don't fit into our cookie cutter visions of what a kid should be.

Pawan www.pancakesforrecess.com said...

Finally a teacher blog that I actually enjoy reading! Well done.

Mary said...

I have listened too. Most people think that the answer to our education woes is better teachers. Better than what? We already have great teachers, but they cannot make a big difference in the life of a child with an 80 IQ (because of drugs) and uninvolved parents,who is sitting in a classroom overcrowded with 30 other children.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why this film thinks that charter schools are the answer. There are charter schools in my state that do well then there are some that do poorly just like public schools. I don't think it is the teachers. I know some teachers aren't where they need to be, they may have lost their drive for teaching, but in my opinion it has to start at home. I work my butt off with my kids and if they don't pracitice it at home then they will not get it. If you take the kids from high performing schools (with parent support) and put them in a Title 1 school I think they would have the same grades and if you take Title 1 school and put them in a rich school their grades will still struggle. Why? Because it is parental support. We do what we can, with the time, and support we have.

Tracy said...

The point has been raised here already, education starts at home. Where are the parents these days?