Yesterday I read an article about how the government policies around achievement in math and reading is causing a drop in funding for science education. I have so many thoughts surrounding this development, but really what it comes down to is my feeling that education has become un-personal. Educating someone is always a personal event. When education has become about meeting a goal and not helping someone to become who or what they are most fit for it has ceased to meet it’s purpose. We need to make education personal again – or at least about the persons we’re supposed to be educating. We have a dramatic drop in science and math scores in America not because kids have become progressively more stupid, but because they’ve been given progressively fewer reasons to believe that it’s important. Chemistry, for example, needs to be about more than memorizing formulas – it needs to be about encouraging imagination that will create a cure to some disease or making a more fluffy cake. There are practical applications to all fields of science, the way to make kids want to pursue science is to help them find a reason to apply it. But getting there requires knowing the kid.
Now I know a lot of people that will automatically jump to the place of saying, “This is why we should dump public education and go to homeschooling.” I totally disagree! The problem is that a great education not only requires an engaged student, but a competent teacher. There are many parents that fit that bill, but the vast majority don’t. And yes there are homeschooling co-ops that help to alleviate that problem, but for most families that doesn’t actually work.
I don’t know what the solution is for most kids, but we need to find a way to making it personal for them. When we can make it personal, then we’ll see scores rise. But until then this all encompassing quest for higher reading and math skills isn’t going to make a bit of difference.