by Betty

The newspaper is full of news about schools – failing test scores, firing all teachers, shortage of supplies, loss of money.

The TV repeats the news – the superintendent explaining the need for changes, the faculty resisting firing of entire staffs, closing of some schools.

Is that a newsworthy change? Is it really a change?

For 30 years I taught in the elementary grades. Imagine if you will 30-35 5 and 6 year olds in a classroom from 8:30 to 2:30 with an hour break for lunch.

Imagine if you will teaching the same printed curriculum to 30-35 very different children – children you really didn’t know, family you never saw or met.

Imagine if you will the two or three hungry children, the one or two extremely bright and bored, the mentally undiagnosed with problems with attention deficit, autism, with problems of language, with problems of hearing or vision. It was all there, but we didn’t know.

Imagine one teacher trying to reach out to all 30-35 children at the same time.

Solutions to the problems… I did not have the answers then, nor do I pretend to have the answers now. I tried to involve the parents. When they came, what a difference it made to the child, the teacher, the parents. I tried to involve senior citizens from retirement communities. What a gift to the children struggling with this thing called “school,” children who thought no one really cared about each of them.

I did learn it takes more than a teacher, a principal, a superintendent, a school board, a government distributing money, supplies, books, to create a successful school – a school where every child is taught to believe they can learn and they do learn. Excellent teachers alone will not make excellent schools. It will take a village working together.

Today’s editorial page had the answer for a successful school. Fire all the students. Then let those who want to learn and are willing to do the work re-enroll.

How simple is that? Could it be a change – the change talked about?

What a solution. Oh, my!

I sometimes wonder if we are, and were, teaching to the job market, not knowing that what is required today in a good job may be gone in 20-30 years as the world changes. I wonder if we make room to teach and develop compassion for all others in this fragile world that we are in together.

I wonder as I wander this lonely live alone. Change – what is it and what may it bring?

February, 2011

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