Here is the video discussion that I created about the future of teaching and education as thought of by Teaching 2030. Teachers should be more involved in the decisions which impact them, but teachers are humans too. This means that there are limitations to what we can expect for them. They need a healthy work-life balance too. They also make decisions that are in their self-interest and not necessarily best for the system as a whole. The education system needs a balance between policy pundits and teachers. Even better, the education system needs to focus more on students.

I love everything about this video and the idea of having more disruptive design events. There’s something really powerful about unleashing creativity. Not only are the people who create things at these events talented, creative individuals, but they are encouraging creative, talented students by inviting them to give feedback on their projects and hopefully by creating projects that will be successful in educating students. Events like this remind me of this quote that I read in Linchpin by Seth Godin:

"Your resume sits in a stack next to plenty of other resumes, each striving to fit in and meet the requirements. Your cubicle is next to the other cubes, each like the other. Your business card and suit and approach to problems- all designed to fit in." - p. 12

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about what kind of education I (and millions of other students are receiving), and a large part of that has to do with the current focus on preparation for working in a corporate office. The description above reminded me of my post about whether or not I should consider making a creative resume (like an infographic), or stick to the standard format because that is what is expected in non-creative fields. I have finally decided that I should just follow my heart and start doing things more creatively, much like the disruptive events encourage.

I love my internship, everything about it. I have freedom to guide myself on projects, to think creatively, to problem solve, to make things that I can be proud of. None of these activities happen in a cubicle or in a suit, and anything other than the activities I’ve described wouldn’t make me happy. If I want to get (or create) a job in the future that will satisfy me and encourage me as much as my internship, I need something that reflects who I am. I need to stop sanitizing everything that I put out into the world because that’s what the business world wants. I’ve experienced too many awesome things happening in startups and in classrooms to be fooled into thinking that I have to wear a suit to an office from nine to five and hope for change. I would love to work for an organization like 4.0 schools, participate in hacking and disruptive design events, create a charter school, or just do anything creative and constructive for education and prove it.

There seems to be blatant hypocrisy in the world of education reform these days. While New York City Schools’ Chancellor Black was urged to step down from her position 3 months into her tenure for being too business minded and having little grasp of the way that the city government works, an article was published in The New York Times April 6th that was commending Principal Ramon Gonzalez for his “success” with M.S. 223 in the South Bronx (in the 2009-2010 Progress Report only 30% of his students were at grade level in English Language Arts). He was commended for his entrepreneurial ability and was credited with that skill as the key to his success. ”González has shown the kind of entrepreneurial thinking that, were he a C.E.O., would attract attention… Thanks to Klein, González has been able to avoid having teachers foisted on him on the basis of seniority. He has been able to create his own curriculums, micromanage his students’ days (within the narrow confines of the teachers’ union contract, anyway) and spend his annual budget of $4 million on the personnel, programs and materials he deems most likely to help his kids.” Gonzalez also views his staff development as monetary investment rather than investment in his children. “Every time one of my teachers leaves, that’s $200,000 walking out the door,” Gonzalez said of his staff he works with to improve their teaching styles and classroom management. There was no mention of the investment in students’ achievement.  

The thing that seems most apparent from the article is that P.S. 223 is not doing better because of average to low expectations for their students. One of the teachers mentioned in the article stated that he felt guilty for using vocabulary that was more advanced than that of more than half of his students (which he claimed was a result of his privileged upbringing on the Upper West Side, not of his Ivy League education). Another teacher, Mr. Arcos, said that he was frustrated that the work he was doing to raise student expectations in his classroom was soon dismantled in other subjects and future grade levels. The author directly states that poverty is the reason why students at the school are having a difficult time in school and that raising expectations for him and teachers will not do anything for him. I think that the author fails to see that it is not raising expectations in terms of standards for tests that is the issue, but rather, raising the expectations of the school culture.