Why does it take schools so long to change?
Why do I feel the need to write so many blogs about change?
The answer to the first question is we’ve been allowed to rest on our laurels. Question number two, I’m either obsessive compulsive or just weird. Could go either way.
Whatever it is, you have to admit it’s like pulling teeth to get a new idea implemented in education.
Educators growl like frightened cats when they hear the word Change (yes, this is an excuse to use a wacky animal picture in a blog).
Everyone seems to believe that we should teach our students in the same ways we were taught 20 or 30 years ago (I know, I’m dating myself).
Worse, we continue to teach the subject matter we were taught. To compound the problem, we use the same techniques we learned during student teaching
(can anyone say chalkboard, overhead, and worksheets?).
I’m here to propose some changes. Again.
So go ahead and growl, hiss, and spit.
Get over it, because as always, we are here for the kids.
Now take a moment to compose yourselves. And stop crying. It’s sad. And pathetic (plus, you don’t want to drip tears on your keyboard).
When I’m done please feel free to tell me what you think. Just keep the cursing to a minimum.
Here we go.
One, we need to get rid of penmanship, keyboarding, memorizing state capitals, and cutback on spelling.
And that’s just a start.
Am I crazy?
Possibly, but more likely I’m just slightly paranoid with some anger issues (it’s all about the proper medication). But that’s a whole different subject.
Penmanship is rarely used by most adults. Unless they are signing their name, so spending hundreds of hours teaching children how to make the perfect “Q” in cursive could be a waste of time.
We don’t have time to teach students a skill they will one day use in writing thank you notes. If they need to produce such a note they can print them (by hand or a computer… I really don’t care).
Keyboarding? Haven’t we progressed past the point of controlling our students by making them sit straight up and down with both feet on the floor while they type?
I don’t know of any former students who have computer skills and weren’t hired for a job because they didn’t type fast enough or use the proper technique.
Last time I checked, most elementary students know their way around a keyboard.
Let’s just agree the “Home Row” isn’t life or death. Enough with typing “asdf gh jkl; fall gall hall lass” a thousand times.
Stop with the memorizing state capitals. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, it was fun in the 1950’s, it can be Googled in 2010. If you find yourself desperately needing to know the capital of Delaware… look it up. There’s no need to spend the entire 4th grade year forcing students to learn where Montpelier and Salem are located.
Lastly, what’s with all the time on spelling?
Do we really need to know how to spell in this day and age?
Can’t we just come close when we are typing and then let the computer correct us? During the typing of this blog, I misspelled 12 words. Maybe it’s my keyboarding skills, maybe I’m just stupid.
Either way, it took me 1.3 seconds to fix them.
This is just a start. I haven’t even gotten to the Periodic Table, poetry, and our obsession with dictionary skills.
Once, we get these things out of the curriculum, schools will have time to address skills needed in this century.
Like foreign language starting in elementary school.
Not as an elective, but mandatory (might I suggest Chinese?).
And computers, computers, computers. We can’t keep pushing technology skills to the background because Grandma the 3rd grade teacher is afraid her students might break the printer or download a song.
Why is it that it’s embarrassing when we don’t know math, history, science when we stand in front of our students, but it’s okay to be clueless about technology (in the interest of full disclosure I stole this from someone on Twitter and I’m also on steroids so I can blog faster…).
As Ben Franklin said, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished”.
And I don’t think any of us employed by a school should be done.