zaterdag 3 september 2011

Education Matters

Yes, they are back! Almost every single one of the ones who made the promise to come back to our school made it in. We are still growing and there is even the sensation that our school is getting to small. But many were happy to see that number wise we are doing great.

I am very aware of the fact that I am a teacher and that teachers have the tendency to take some things so serious! Even themselves! Sometimes have a hard time to take risks once in a while. Teachers try to be prepared and want to create the perfect setting in order to stimulate success. Not only their own but in the first place enable their audience to get a good result. So this involves thinking, planning, doubting and even some 'failing'.

Like every year also the written press did some educational coverage about the educational world before school started. It is then that we suddenly can relocate our minister of education. Who seems to have been hibernating for quite some time! Mnay of us you do not need to be best friends with your big boss. Personally I do not wish to be one of his followers on Twitter and I do not aim to get on his Facebookpage. To be honest I even have never checked out if he is even on one of these social networks. No need for that!

But I do care about the fact what this person his future plans are. I have a very outspoken opion when it comes down to education. Me being a special ed teacher does enable me to get into a different level of thinking about many educational matters. Not always the most fun level. In our school we are confrontated daily with how society works, what is expected of a person. In all my years of teaching I have seen some changes that do sometimes scare me a bit.

Yes, education is one of the cornerstones of society. That schools are needed to teach youngsters some very important fact about the real life out there is now so obvious. Many of the things I do teach my pupils I did myself not pick up from a teacher. No in that 'ancient' time it were rather other people who seem to have been 'playing' teacher.

Still more and more it seems to me that society expects of that educators to 'solve' or 'fix' many issues before they cause turmoil. In many cases it seems to be teacher who can and will be blamed for not having dealt enough with a certain subject or skill. That now many seem to have the impression that the the pupils we grant a diploma are of a 'less' quality is in my honest and humble opinion a bit of too harsh conclusion.

Now, please do not think that only numbers matter in a school. Although I have the urge to say that in our present world a number seems to be so much more important then quality. In society you seem to be constantly fighting against the power of the number. But in the educational world that seems not to hold up.

The world we live in today is so much different then the one I went to school in. In the last 15 years the educational world has made a quantum leap. Education is one of the children's rights. Every human being that steps into this world has been given the right! It is not something for the happy few anymore. The time that only the upper class could write and read is for sure the defenitive past. Still in education there will always be smarter and less smarter kids.

It is utopia to think that you can create a society in which all kids will develop in the same direction and at the same level. What is very hopeful is to see that in the last five years main stream schools seem to be able to make many children stay in a 'normal' school. One look at my teaching audience and I can tell you that my special ed kids are also from a different league then a decade ago.

Last weekend I sat at a table with all grade school teachers. They were buzzing with energy and it was so much fun to just feel the energy. I did make me feel hopeful that many of these people seem to have the heart at the right place in order to be educators. They did not complain one single moment about something that was ahead of them. These were all young people who are fully aware of the complex mission they are on.

When I told them that I was a special ed teacher one of them made the remark that this must be kind of hard and challenging. 'Yes, it is!', I said and at the same time my shoulders went up like I wanted to tell at the same time:'So what?' But then I added:'Yeah what we get in seems to be different then in the past but this means that the kids you teach are a more complex group. It seems to me that the plan to keep all children as long as possible in a 'normal setting' to learn and live' does seem to work.'

Perhaps not that many people take an honest look at what the 'real problems to tackle in the educational environment nowdays. Still most school globaly lack funding! They have to be very creative in order to make end meet. The money box seems most of the time empty and so schools adminastrators and principals are never fully content when it comes down to finances.

Most principals feel sometimes helpless when they take one look at the building they have to welcome into pupils. Well, when I was student teaching in the school where I still happen to teach (I can not seem to leave that place! ;-))) the principal always told parents when they signed up their kid in our school:'When you chose for this school you do not chose for the setting you chose for the staff I have hired!'

Yes, we moved now to a nicer setting. The building is grant and many visitors are kind of envious of the place. But I can tell you if inside that building not motivated and inspiring people teach, think, count, clean, learn, curse, joke around, yell, fool around, plann, coordinate, and foremost care about others their wellbeing then even the nicest school would not function. And yes, yesterday one Junior did once more point out that it matters to her a great deal what teacher she will 'stuck with' I did smile because she is damn right.

Education matters but you do it together and not just inside a schoolbuilding. Once a kid walks out the gate it does hope that it find the opportunities that have been promised to them and that they can practice what they have been taught. Because only practice can and will make perfect.

P.S.: How many of you were thinking that the kids in this clip were up to something bad? Even I did when I saw this for the very first time. Prejudice it is still out there in the world. Be honest here! ;-))

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