Education

Dear Teacher, A few months ago, I felt extremely exhausted and fatigued. When I woke up in the morning, it was a chore to drag myself out of bed. The only thing I really wanted to do was sleep. Sleep was what I needed and yet it seemed like the most elusive thing in the world. Work occupied my mind day and night. When I did eventually drag myself out of bed, I felt like a walking zombie and nothing, not even my regular cup of coffee would perk me up. I began to feel annoyed at little things both in school and at home—things that never used to bother me. To make matters worse, I felt that my health was deteriorating, battling everything from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to gastro problems and the common cold. Everyday on my way to work, I would ask myself existential questions...
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Dear New Teacher, You will have a tremendous amount of pressure when you enter your classroom this fall. Along with the responsibilities outlined by your school’s administration, there are district guidelines, mandatory training classes, required documents, and additional “voluntold” duties, on top of lesson planning, curriculum development, and a never-ending amount of “necessary” policies with which to contend. But don’t let all these responsibilities make you nervous. Having just finished my first year in teaching, I want to offer some tips that I think may help you survive your days as a freshman educator. Don’t take it personally. As I was setting up before my first day with my students last year, I had it fixed in my mind how much I wanted them to “like” being in my class. In the...
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Dear Educators: When Educational Leadership asked me to write an article for this issue, I almost said no. I surprised myself. I'm a writer, a blogger, and an English teacher by trade, and I never say no to a request to write. I hadn't realized how painfully I felt that the trajectory of U.S. education had skewed in the past 10 years. In the face of the failure of funding for public schools, damaging teacher evaluation policies, stultifying infatuation with high-stakes testing, and continued national myopia regarding the influence of economic inequity on our students, to write about how to help teachers "put on a happy face" felt ludicrously peripheral. I believed, finally, there was only one way to do this with integrity, and that was to test my own experiences and ideas in fire. I...
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Dear New TFA Recruits, Around the country, hundreds of college seniors and a handful of career changers are receiving letters of acceptance into Teach For America (TFA). Congratulations on being accepted into this prestigious program. You clearly have demonstrated intelligence, passion, and leadership to make it this far. And now I am asking you to quit. TFA probably enticed you into the program with its call to end education inequality. That is a beautiful and noble mission. I applaud you for being moved by the chance to help children, to be part of creating equality in our schools, of ending poverty once and for all. However, the actual practice of TFA does the exact opposite. TFA claims to fight to end educational inequality, and yet exacerbates one of the greatest inequalities in...
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Dear Public School Teachers, We are sorry. On behalf of graduates of public schools, parents of children in public schools, those who value public education and teachers unions, we apologize. Your profession has been vilified, scapegoated, mined for profit, and deprofessionalized. Earlier this year, a kindergarten teacher named Suzi Sluyter resigned after more than 25 years as an educator. She wrote: "I have watched as my job requirements swung away from a focus on the children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing, and scoring young children, thereby ramping up the academic demands and pressures on them... I did not feel I was leaving my job. I felt then and feel now that my job...
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Dear Mr. Fröbel, On the occasion of your birthday, I thought it fitting to share a perspective on the current state of your kindergarten concept in the United States. After all, here in the states we commemorate April 21 as “Kindergarten Day”. I realize that you, of all people, would be happy to know that in each state, every child has access to kindergarten, although it is not always required. While we have provided access, kindergarten often seems like the battlefield where the academics of birth-to-five child development and K-12 education square off. There has been fierce debate over how it should be implemented, what is best for children and the role it should play in our system of educational matriculation. Here is a short summary of my observations: To play or not to play...
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Dear School, You are so very sensitive to so very many topics, so I hope that you will also be sensitive to my plea as a busy mother. I was willing to play along when you said that all homework assignments should be reviewed (and corrected, really?) by parents. I even took a day off here and there when you suggested that it would be so nice if the child’s mother could come in and read a story on the birthday in lieu of sending cupcakes. (Because everyone knows that cupcakes are evil. Especially ones with sprinkles and chocolate frosting.) And another day off for the class party. (I saw what happened when one child’s mother nor father could attend, and it was heartbreaking.) I’ve spent entire weekends helping facilitate a science project, as you suggested the children should not be...
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I am a 20-year-old guy from Croatia, and I’m a metalhead, gamer, son, boyfriend, brother, grandson and a friend. That pretty much sums me up. So, lately I've been feeling depressed. Several reasons to that. I am about to become a college dropout. My parents literally said they are disappointed in me, because they expected me to be a successful student. This expectation is based on the fact that I passed elementary school and high school without ever opening a book. I mean ever. I have an IQ of 145, think that means I'm in the upper 2% of all people or something. Okay, so I'm intelligent, but I don't have the habit of studying, I don’t know how to study. I’m the first year of college: I failed 4 out of 8 classes. My parents spent $1,000 for me to try again, and now, I haven’t...
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Dear Ministers, As stewards of Europe's future generations, you will be all too aware that as early as the age of 7, children reach a critical juncture, when they are learning the core life skills of reading, writing and basic maths. However, to flourish in tomorrow's digital economy and society, they should also be learning to code. And many, sadly, are not. While it is undeniable that Europe needs more computer scientists and engineers if it is to prosper and compete - the number of unfilled ICT vacancies in Europe is expected to reach 900,000 by 2020 -the ability to code is not a selfish industry ambition. Nor is it just for "geeks" or those destined for a career in ICT. A plethora of interesting, creative jobs all depend on a degree of coding ability. Whether analysing...
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Dear Mr Cameron, Congratulations on winning a second term as our prime minister. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t vote for you. In fact when you got your majority I nearly cried (in the middle of teaching a year 7 Geography lesson- that would have been very awkward). But that’s democracy and I am more than happy to accept the result the people have chosen. The only thing I want to say to you is please, please do not continue to change our education system for the worse. After all I am a lazy teacher who works from 9-3:30 then goes home and doesn’t think about school again until the next morning and obviously I wouldn’t want to be made to work any harder, right? Wrong! Yes I am a teacher but I’m certainly not lazy. What if I told you that I spend every waking minute thinking about my...
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