David Wilson has some insightful comments regarding how our government education system must improve in the Missouri Times.
He observes that while our education system has certain problems, the education system itself is not the entire problem. He writes,
There are problems in schools today, but the bigger picture is that there are problems in all of society today. Whatever evils or ills our communities face end up being issues on campus at the neighborhood school.
That’s not to say that schools can’t be safe havens for students. They are. And it doesn’t mean that schools can’t reach children in the midst of a tumultuous world. They do.
He then proceeds to give three very helpful suggestions. The first of these is by far the most helpful. He writes,
First, there needs to be a change in the teaching mindset. Rather than focusing on teaching a subject, each teacher should focus on teaching the student. That means that we teach him or her anything needed for success in the future. That will no doubt include specific content, but it will include much more.
In addition, the shift must be one in which teachers are facilitators of student learning, rather than being simply dispensers of information. In years past, many classrooms were organized with students in rows of desks with the teacher providing information in a lecture format. That really won’t work as the main instructional delivery system for students today. (In fact, it really didn’t work for all students back then either).
In the 21st century classroom, teachers need to foster an atmosphere of student inquiry and discovery and must create meaningful and relevant learning experiences. If a teacher can cultivate a student’s natural curiosity and make the process of following that curiosity in to valuable learning experiences, then that student will always be able to learn whatever is necessary in the years to come.
This observation alone deserves a standing ovation. It is magnificent to see someone in the government school system make this observation. Mr. Wilson is to be congratulated.
This comment is a radical shift in the government school evolution. Common Core is just the pinnacle of the trend in government school evolution. Common core would ensconce the teaching of the “subject” into the soul of the government school. Mr. Wilson suggests breaking that evolutionary trend. Mr. Wilson would teach to the student. Again, I applaud Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Wilson’s suggestion verges on a point that I have been making for some time. Education is inherently not about teaching subjects but about forming passions in the students’ lives. It is about forming character. These passions and character traits may be good or bad depending on the cycle of life and traditions created by the educational institution. You can read more here and here. Unwholesome educational experiences create unwholesome character traits. But wholesome traditions and practices form wholesome character. If this is true, what does that say of the problems in all of society today? If we are showing signs of social decay, it is the educational system that is forming the society and causing the decay. Shouldn’t our societal problems be lain at the very feet of the educational system that prepared the people for the society? The societal problem is an educational problem. This is the truth Mr. Wilson has to deal with whether he knows it or not. This is our education blindspot.
The logical next question is whether the government is capable in providing good character and passions in its novices. I would argue not. Clearly, the evidence is against it. Government education has been in a long slow decline for decades. Our society in in moral decay. I would argue that this decline started when the separation-of-church-and-state advocates took biblical principles out of education. The two trends sure do seem to correspond. Our founding fathers knew that true religion (i.e the Christian religion) was the only foundation for a moral and righteous people. But this line of thought must be taken one step further. Is a government inherently capable of providing a character rich environment for a culture that will be adequate for our nation? The answer is no. Government is an entity which exists for the purpose of executing justice. It acts by law and judgment. It cannot inculcate a desire for beauty or the glory of God if it is bound to executing justice alone. Any government education will inherently trend away from a fully developed godly character.
If we must teach to the student, we must teach to the student’s soul. This the government cannot do. It is time for the church and family to again take over the reins of education.