I feel that in my years of interrelating with my students I have made a profound difference in their lives. I make this proclamation because I have always believed in the power of critical thinking. Too many educators approach teaching with only a standard curriculum and never ask their students to “color outside the lines.” By the time the kids get to college, they are robots who sit in a classroom and expect their instructors to feed them information which they will memorize, short term, and forget right after the exam. I assist them to become creative again after they have been told to be receptive only for their entire school experience. I challenge them to interact with each other and express their viewpoints. I teach oral communication so it’s the perfect realm for their self actualization.
The public school system as it exists today is a stifling creation of an outdated system. In order for students to succeed in school, you have to challenge their minds and the present system does not. My recommendation would be to scrap it completely. Do away with grades as a way to measure progress; do away with chronological age restrictions; do away with the present logistical structure. Create a system that measures a child’s ability to question, to grow, to interact with his peers. The system that presently exists is perfect for the average kid but how many are really average? Our system rewards mediocrity. If a child can sit in a classroom, not create a discipline problem and feeds back with rote memory the information that has been handed to him, then we consider him a success but does this make great leaders or outstanding artists? No, it doesn’t. And why do we require every child to be proficient in every subject? After all, as adults, most of us figure out what we’re best at and go for it. Why don’t we let the kids do what they are drawn to rather than expecting them to be a” jack of all trades and a master of none.”
For every failure that the young mind processes, it is one more step toward stifling the natural creativity that children possess before they are confronted by all of society’s rules and regulations. What would be wrong with a school system where every child received nothing but positive reinforcement? I once knew a college professor who took kids with low placement scores, low self esteem and a general lack of interest in school and tossed them a candy bar every time that did something well. He had them write about themselves by giving them an astute unfinished sentence to complete. He made learning fun and the students turned into people who couldn’t wait to get to his class and achieve. He was teaching in conjunction with writing novels. His own creative flow was apparent and he let it flow into his classes. Too often, this is not the case. As I have walked past the doors of some classrooms, I have seen students sleeping through a professor’s lecture. No one sleeps in my classroom. From the beginning, I let them know that they are in charge of making the class a success by their participation. It is our class, not my class. We, as a conjunctive whole, create the heights or depths in that space during that timeframe. You’d be surprised how adept young people are when given the opportunity to aspire to inventiveness. At first, of course, they protest because they have lost the ability to conjure up their basic creative instincts but eventually they rise to the occasion and some surpass my wildest expectations.