19 Dec With flawed schools exposed, real-world experience is needed
What kind of school systems are our taxes supporting?
This question becomes very critical given the fact that jobs are being outsourced to other countries by the thousands and many leaders of public schools have lost touch with what’s important. Educators better get with the program and start teaching real skills along with the ability to learn and compete.
The latest decision to outsource jobs comes from J.P. Morgan (which now includes Bank One) to shift 7,000 financial jobs into India. While that’s good for future graduates in India, it’s not good for those in the United States.
As with so many others in industries that aren’t yet affected by outsourcing or offshoring, educators don’t see that their future is questionable as well. There needs to be a radical shakeup in an industry that has touted itself as professionals yet continues to deliver some very questionable results. The latest is a controversial assignment in Wisconsin.
Stop teaching fantasyland
The old adage of “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach” must be replaced with “those who can must also teach”. A different set of criteria for hiring teachers should be invoked in order to upgrade the quality of education in America.
This observation comes after teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses for twenty years where the adult students enrolled, many of which were deeply immersed in the job market, were looking for practical insights from those that have a hands-on experience rather than a theoretical philosophy.
For example, it is difficult to be credible teaching a course on international marketing if you never have been outside the country. Many factors (including cultural differences) can’t be properly conveyed.
The best visualization is Rodney Dangerfield in “Back to School” telling the academic business professor that he missed a lot of things on his laundry list of putting together a manufacturing company. When the professor discounts Dangerfield’s practical insights, he answers the professor’s final question as to where to build the factory: “How about Fantasyland?”
Teaching from the Rodney Dangerfield” approach, the merging of pragmatism and academics into “pracademics” became a must in many information systems and telecom management courses. People wanted to learn from those who had real backgrounds and not those who had just read a book. There needs to be this blending of real world with teaching in lower levels of education across the whole curriculum.
Pawns, sheep, competition
There was national attention given on Tuesday to an assignment given to third graders at a Madison, Wisconsin, school to write an anti-war letter. While this was touted as a lesson in civics and handwriting, the reality is that it was a way of using children as political pawns to promote an individual’s political viewpoint.
What is more appalling is the parent of one of the students (who is also a teacher) going on FOX television to support the assignment and trying to put a positive spin on it as something good for the students to learn.
You could tell she was reading off a prepared, bulletpointed list as to the “relevancy and learning experience” the assignment provided as if she was the spokesperson for the teachers. I suppose she responded in “educatorese” by supporting a very questionable assignment that wasn’t at all structured objectively.
Another parent who was interviewed got it right when she claimed it was nothing more than a brainwashing exercise and questioned why this assignment (which was mostly pre-written with an anti-war slant) was given to children to finish up and mail out. It was also an assignment that was supposed to be repeated every 12 days until the war ended.
What if the assignment was writing about repealing Roe vs. Wade? Would more people be up in arms? Sending a letter every 12 days until it is repealed would be the assignment. Would you feel any different now? Do you not like when kids are used as sheep to promote a political agenda with which you may not agree?
Using impressionable children to promote any political agenda is wrong no matter the issue. Let kids be kids and not be burdened with adult issues that are too complex to fully understand at that age.
If we had the same metrics to measure schools and teacher effectiveness as we do in manufacturing, we would be seeing the product they’re cranking out is not a quality product. The tired comparison educators always use that “if they had a job in corporate America, they would be getting paid so much more money” would be superfluous.
They would be let go for cranking out an inferior product that they wasted a huge amount of resources to make. Superintendents who view themselves as CEOs should see that CEOs don’t get a raise if they aren’t doing a good job and they get bounced if their company isn’t turning out a quality, world-class product.
What are the real goals?
Where is the quality control in public schools?
Political correctness and slanted ideology should be replaced with political accuracy and strong, fundamental and objective learning skills. Schools should also concentrate on developing skill sets to compete globally. A focus on creativity, flexibility and adaptability – rather than rote, repetition and routine – should be the critical objective of today’s school goals for educating tomorrow’s work force.
While cute curricula with whimsical goals, folksy ideals and subtle promotion of political objectives might sound good in the coffee room, teachers should be pushed out into the real world and be replaced by those who have worked in it. If nothing else, students would get a much broader insight into what they will need in the future and teachers would get the education they are missing.
Carlinism: Socrates was a teacher. He was not an educator.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.