Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The future of education?

In one of my on-line classes this semester, one of my students introduced herself (as required) and added the following comment:
I am anxious to get all this behind me and finish my education so that I can be an elementary teacher.
My response?
welcome to the beginning of your education! As some one who will be living in the society that the children you teach make (as workers and citizens) I certainly hope that this is the beginning of your education, even if it is the end of your formal "schooling." First of all, if you are good teacher, you will learn things from your students. Secondly we all hope, for the sake of our future, that you will continue to read and expand your knowledge of our society, economy, politics and culture, so that you can become a wiser and more knowledgeable teacher.
This student's attitude, is by no means unique. I have come in contact with many young people preparing to be elementary school teachers over the past 18 years in central Appalachia, and I would say this attitude typifies at least a third of those that I have met.

I had just finished reading an op-ed piece from yesterday's Lexington Herald-Leader by teacher Roger Guffey (obviously a life-long learner) when I read this student's comment. Guffy has some very sensible things to say about the future of education. Including the not very popular, but quite accurate point, that not all people belong in college, and those that are not interested should not be pushed in that direction. He quite accurately notes the social stigma of blue collar work, desipite society's continuing need for many blue colalr occupations, and the good pay of many of them.

However, as good as all of Guffy's recommendation are, until we can develop elementary school teachers who truly care about life-long learning and education, and do not see it as a burden to be gotten through as quickly and painlessly as possible, we haven't a snow ball's chance in...our world come 2100!!


one and only hypnos said...

To be honest I think most of those students are just somewhat nervous about going to college, starting their education and all that. It's not easy... Trying to make more on your own, attending classes, exams, the idea of your entire future hanging in the balance and so on...

Sue said...

OAOH, what you describe is indeed true of mnay of my students. However, the young woman in question is not a freshman, but a semester senior in her final semester. She has been taking college courses for at least five years.