Back Story: Crazy. Not Insane.
I was born into a family of teachers. Seriously: mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle… everyone. Education runs through my veins and I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I was probably about 10 years old when I decided that I wanted to be a math teacher. I knew going into college that I was going to be math teacher, and I knew coming out of college that I was going to dedicate 100% of my life to teaching and to the children. So it breaks my heart to admit that education in my home country is failing… and not just failing where we can actually do something to fix it; it is an absolute train wreck.
There’s always talk of “high standards,” but when it comes down to it, the standards are actually lowered just so that students are able to pass the state test at the end of year. Why? Because students passing these standardized tests means more money and support from the government and at the same time, less government involvement within the school because, on paper, it looks like the school is doing a good job teaching students what they need to know. While on paper, it might look like students are mastering concepts, but this is far from the truth.
As a naturally born educator, I can not stomach this thought. I’ve tried to use logic and rationalize with people in higher positions – but, unfortunately, this is like an ant trying to move the Empire State Building. I’ve tried to please everyone while still doing what I thought was best for the students within my own classroom, but again, this was stifled immediately with countless contradictions in direction from administration.
Just about every [American] teacher that I talk to feels the same about this topic but, unfortunately, most educators are unable to speak their mind in fear that it will cause waves and waves are not good to cause when there is a mortgage, school loans, mouths to feed, a car payment, credit cards, and anything else that a person in the U.S. these days has to pay off. Well, I may have a ton of school loans to deal with, but I’m fortunate enough to not be tied down any other way and I can not NOT speak my mind [especially when it involves my morals and the youth of America]. So, of course, I voiced my opinion at just about every meeting and didn’t sugarcoat it at all. Nothing helped the situation.
I don’t understand! I am categorized as a “highly qualified” teacher [meaning I not only have a teaching degree, but I have an additional degree in the subject I teach]. Most states, by law, have to hire the highly qualified teacher over someone else with just a teaching degree. I have more than enough certifications and test scores to teach in multiple states, including the “Content Knowledge” Praxis Test [which most people can not pass] which certifies me to teach all the way up to the college level. Every time I’m observed by someone that actually knows math, he/she raves about how I know my “stuff” inside and out and when a student asks me a question I can answer it with little hesitation. The observer is amazed how I’m able to spiral in past knowledge as well as higher level concepts and can get students to expand their thinking. And Standardized Test results?! Ok, I won’t even get into that because I’m not trying to brag… I’m just completely baffled as to WHY MY VOICE WAS NOT BEING HEARD! Why does the opinion about the fundamentals of education from a highly qualified teacher with a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education who is told “really knows her stuff,” NOT MATTER?!
Albert Einstein once said that doing something over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I tried to change the system from within over and over again, expecting each attempt of my professional outreaches might lead to a different outcome. I finally realized, this is insane and will never work.
With a lot of thought and frustration, I came to the conclusion that if I am not allowed to be part of the solution, then that automatically defaults me as part of the problem – and I could not live with that thought any longer. Education is my passion. I’ve wanted to be a teacher my entire life; but there should be a huge difference between an educator and a puppet. Since I didn’t see the difference between my professional career and Pinocchio’s, I resigned and decided to travel the world to compare the education from around the world to the education in America.
Since I wasn’t being heard as an employee in one classroom, I am determined to be heard as a roaming professional from multiple classrooms around the world.
I may be crazy with my radical ideas of resigning my position as an educator and traveling the world trying to find a solution for America, but I am not insane. American education, right now, is failing and we need to stop the insanity.
I’m dedicated to this mission… are you?
I agree with you completely. As the mother of a son with a learning disability, I have seen first hand what a failure the school system is. My son battled his way through school until october of his senoir year until finally giving up and quiting. He could not pass the regents even though passing the courses, and he could never find time to take the additional nonsense courses required to make up the credits needed to graduate. I went to every guidance meeting ( requesting most of them) trying to battle the school system so that he could have the education he deserved. He learned to read and write because he went to a special tutor (that I had to pay for and could not really afford) who worked with his with large paper on the floor and standing behind him writing on his back to explain to him about his mirror writing. His school life was a nightmare for all of us. He was very popular with his classmates as well as his teachers but as far as learning it was a bust. It is just as you have stated, it is all about the stats not about the student.
American education has become so political. Administrators are so afraid to stand up to the school board. The school board determines policy for the district but what are their qualifications? Presently in my town, our school board is comprised of a plumber, a lawyer, a stay-at-home mom, a local shop owner – none of these people have any experience in the classroom except as students. Very often the only motivation is to save money and keep property taxes down – not exactly in the best interest of the children.