So many people have written and spoken about the problem(s) with the American educational system. I believe the problems are simple.
Educators in America have been told to go on a “Snip Hunt.” For those not familiar with this popular Boy Scout game, unknowing participants are encouraged to go find and capture a “Snipe.” They would spend hours in the woods lead by a believable and knowledgeable guide to find and capture something that does not exist. So much time and energy is wasted, all in good fun. Later the participants would be told they were fooled into believing they were hunting for something that did not exist. It would be funny to hear stories around the campfire of scouts who would say they think they saw a “snipe”, only to find out later it does not exist.
The problem is when it comes to education, too much time, money, training, & energy are wasted on false solutions and it is not funny.
I believe educators have been lead on these two “snipe hunts.”
Snipe Hunt #1:
We are preparing students for a specific career or job. Jamie Casap (@jcasap) said it best at FETC (Florida Education Technology Conference), as educators, we are asking students the wrong question. We ask students “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The real question is “What problem do you want to solve?” In the YouTube video entitled: Did You Know 3.0 HD (Officially Updated for 2012) the video points out that the top ten in demand jobs during 2012 did not exist in 2004. We cannot know what jobs we are preparing our students to work and lead. We can only teach them information and skills to adapt to the new world they will live and work. Having students focus on “What problems they want to solve?” will ultimately lead them to a career they will have a passion to bring about excellence in all that they do.
Snipe Hunt #2:
The focus on teaching Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic should focus on the skills associated with discipline of knowledge. I believe we need to focus on instilling a love and passion for each of these disciplines of knowledge. Students will say they don’t like to read, write, or solve math problems. Wrong! Students have not found what they like to read and have not been asked to write and solve problems that they can connect any relevance to what they are passionate about. I believe the “Genius Hour” concept will go a long ways in bringing relevance in what we teach students to what the student is passionate about and thinks is important. Steven Layne the author of Igniting A Passion For Reading, suggested one strategy in which the teacher says, when I read this book, I thought about you. Why don’t you read it and let me know what you think. Talk about connecting relevance to reading. I think we can use this strategy in any subject we teach. However, we can only do this if we truly know our students and their passions and interests.
Jackie Robinson is quoted to have said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
If we are going to make a positive impact on our students’ lives today and in their future, we have to quit hunting for “snipes.”
What other “snipe hunts” have educators been lead to participate?