Educator Scott McLeod offered a challenge to list 5 things that we need to stop pretending in education. I thought I would give it my best shot.
1) We need to stop pretending that every student’s goal should be to attend a four year college. In many ways and for many reasons our public schools have become college preparatory schools. Getting young people ready for the next step in their lives is certainly what we have to be about, but we have to acknowledge the large number of young people for whom the traditional path of a four year college is not right for. Internships, apprenticeships, and a variety of alternative environments should become part of our school culture in order to help all of our students transition into life after K-12 education.
2) (Stolen from Charles Wheelan) We need to stop pretending that parents want or know what is BEST for their kids. Parents want what is GOOD for their kids and there is a difference. Parents want to protect their children from risk and discomfort and therefore urge safe choices. Educators know that young people have to be pushed out of their comfort zones in order to grow. We need to help educate parents when we are pushing our students from what is good for them to what is best for them.
3) We need to stop pretending that we can create artificial relationships. We need to encourage more students to become involved with activities that create authentic relationships with staff and other students. Our collaborative classroom activities need to have authentic outcomes, because authentic outcomes will help students to create authentic relationships.
4) We need to stop pretending that committees are the answer to every issue that arises in our schools. I have been on a lot of committees and some of them have even accomplished a thing or two, but it feels as though we may have committee’d ourselves to death these days. Sometimes we need to take in information and then act.
5) We have to stop pretending that schools will change without us becoming uncomfortable. Real change will require us to be uncomfortable. We will make mistakes and that will make us uncomfortable. All we can do is continually ask the question, “what is good for kids?” and if that is our guide then we can look ourselves in the mirror and know we have done our jobs.