First of all, thank you. It would be impossible for me to be the man I am today without your help. From Ms. Bailey in pre-K to Professor Senn in college, all of you have helped me and hundreds of other students grow not only academically, but through your character and deviation, have helped us grow into better people. Being the enabler, or facilitator of a child or adolescent’s education is by no means an easy task, and we, your students, give you thanks for your sacrifice and patience.
If you were to ask any child, teenager, or adult to draw a picture of “education,” what would they draw? Chances are, they would draw a classroom. More specifically though, you would have trouble finding a picture that doesn’t include desks, a whiteboard, or a teacher standing of a group of students sitting in rows and columns. To some, this might not seem like a problem. But, these people have enough colored pencils and papers to draw anything they want, so why is it that virtually all of these drawings include these elements. They could draw couches arranged in a circle, with the teacher sitting right next to the students? They could draw a group of students going on a walk outside with their teacher. They could draw students eating lunch with their teachers all together. They could draw students teaching other students. You get the point.
Being so close to the environment of education, it would be impossible for you to not recognize the prevalence of cheating, procrastination, “all-nighters,” and unnecessary memorization among students of all ages. Having spent many hours and having written many essays on these topics, I have never once thought of them as an “inherent” part of the education system. In other words, these problems do not have to exist, they just do because of the flaws of the system itself.
If things don’t start to change now, when will they? In 50 years, when students will be arriving to school on their hovercrafts, are they going to sit down at their desks from the 2010s? Are they going to be stuck in a system that has been around for hundreds of years? Will teachers still be writing on whiteboards? Will students still have to raise their hands in order to talk or ask questions? Will bells ring every hour to tell the students to move on to their next class, just to sit down at their assigned desk and write down everything the teacher says?
Having thought about this topic for many months now, it seems crazy to me that the environment where a child gets molded, shaped, and conditioned to face the real world is not being reformed and restructured as much as possible. The place where students go to learn to become future leaders and workers should not be a place that accepts cheating, procrastination, and memorization as inherent realities. It should not be a place where desks are arranged, without hesitation, into boring rows and columns. It should not be a place where students raise their hands instinctively in order to talk.
Teachers, I know your job is hard enough as it is, but I am not saying to make it any harder. How much easier would it be teaching a group of students that would rather have deep conversations with you and each other, that they would remember for years to come, rather than skip hopework, skip class and cheat on tests. I am not a teacher, and I have surely not gone to school to learn how to become one, but who said learning needs to take place the way it has been taking place so many years? What is stopping you from taking your students for a walk, sit at the park, and talk about European History?
Maybe it is time to rethink the way the future leaders of the world are taught how to become the future leaders of the world. Thank you.