This post will be in multiple parts, as there is too much to put into one post. In this post I want to explain my problem with public education as it relates to students. As a teacher, it is my job to teach, encourage, support, and help my students become the best versions of themselves. I want to see my students shine and become amazing, productive members of society. I want them to love learning, understand that failure is a part of the learning process, embrace failure to become better, and never settle for okay. No matter how hard I try and do this for my students, the public education system doesn’t really care about any of this. To be honest, the system only cares about one thing; DATA.
You see, the public school system keeps track of every bit of academic data you can think of. It keeps track of reading scores, math scores, writing scores, standardized test scores, SAT scores, and so on. Every child is given a student ID number. It doesn’t matter where the child goes to school, they will be placed into a system with a number, and that number will keep track of every assessment score you can think of. Sadly, that is all the number keeps track of.
You may hear, “Education should be personalized,” or “Education is about the whole child.” How I agree with both these statements, the truth is that the only thing that really matters to the system is how well a child performs on assessments. You see, there is no measuring tool for how much students love to learn, their emotional and mental growth, their ability to properly socialize and work together with other students, their ability to create solutions to real world problems, nor is there a measuring tool for how well students deal with difficulties in their life.
Nope, there is no measure for any of this. “Why” you may ask. Well, there is a simple reason. Everything I just mentioned is not considered important. In the public school setting, the only thing that matters is academic growth that can be tracked through data. I sat through a meeting the other night where students’ percentages on their ISATs were praised. However, I never heard about students mental and emotional health, their ability to work through difficult situations, or their ability to create solutions to real world problems. The only thing that was discussed were the numbers.
And that’s just it, the only thing that the public school system really cares about is the numbers the students produce. As a matter of fact, it is the numbers that determine the amount of money a school district receives. This is why numbers are the only thing that matters, and this is a major problem that needs to be addressed.
Let me pause here and say that most schools understand that students are more than numbers. Teachers understand that students are more than numbers. Teachers work tirelessly to provide emotional, mental, and academic support to their students. Teachers know that if a student is not taken care of, or provided emotional and mental support, then their academics will be a major struggle. The problem is that teachers fall under the system that expects children to perform well and provide good numbers on assessments.
There needs to be a change in how we see our students. There needs to be a realization that our students are more than a number. They are independent, creative, special, and passionate individuals who have a lot to offer. Instead of pushing students to perform well to earn high marks, how about we encourage students to be healthy, independent, strong, creative, life-long learners who will use their gifts to become productive members of society. Our students are not just a number; they are human beings.