The Thread That Runs So True by avill7
February 3, 2008, 4:34 am
Filed under: education | Tags: , , ,

If you’re in education, then chances are you’ve read Stuart’s book. If not, you may want to pick it up, as it is an easy read that lends interesting insight into the beginnings of public education in the mountains. A tale about a time when the prospect of providing a well-rounded education to the public seemed like a good idea, narrated by a unique individual who was ahead of his time.

“I will live if my teaching is inspirational, good, and stands firm for good values and character training. Tell me how can good teaching ever die? Good teaching is forever and the teacher is immortal.”

This profound belief in the goodness of the teacher and in the crucial role he/she plays in cultivating youths’ minds is the connecting theme that can be found in every page of Jesse Stuart’s story of his days as a mountain school teacher. His passion for relaying knowledge to his pupils, furthering his own education, fighting for the educational rights of the average citizen, and in being a leader of reform towards a better way of schooling seems boundless. I can’t help but wonder why there aren’t more people like him around today that stand up to demand change for our schools.

But is change what is needed? Is it enough?

Although Stuart wrote about experiences that took place over seventy years ago, many of the problems and issues that he faced in schools then, still exist today. Problems with poverty, parental involvement (or lack thereof), differences in cultural backgrounds, low literacy rates, low teacher salaries, educational and political bureaucracy, discipline problems, absences and tardies, ineffective teachers and administrators, and allocation of funds . . . were all there then. You’d think that in seventy plus years, states – at least cities – most definitely schools – would have figured out an effective method for providing education to all. Many do get an education, yet most certainly not all. Same as then.

So will simple change be the answer to these problems? And exactly what or who should change? Should it be the teachers, students, parents, administrators, counselors, community members, and/or legislators that change? And in what way(s)? Who will supervise the changes? What could possibly be altered in the existing system that wouldn’t offend anyone, please everyone, and still achieve the goal of educating all?

These question could go on and on – have been for seventy years. What will another possible seventy years of questioning accomplish?

Maybe public education isn’t the answer . . .

13 Comments so far
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If you look at where education changes the quickest, it’s in the corporate arena. When the goal is to get people trained as quickly as possible, there is a constant search for the best methodology. In addition, in an environment where cost cutting is the norm, you also quickly learn how to get better results with less money. Doesn’t sound much like government does it?

Comment by Steve Rosenbaum

I couldn’t agree more! It’s funny how in a free market, things get done quickly. Change, adapt, and/or improve to meet the needs/wants . . . or go out of business. Not so in a gov’t monopoly, huh?

Comment by avill7

Even the corporate world suffers from fads and heavy management though.

Me, I’d just take the whole system apart. The problem I see, whether it’s public or private, is that it’s all top down. Take it apart and hand the resources over to the communities and let them explore what they need to educate themselves and their kids.

Avill – Have you read John Taylor Gatto yet? I have a feeling you’ll enjoy him. 🙂

Comment by Dawn

It’s funny that you wrote this yesterday, because just yesterday I was talking to some of our teacher friends about this very thing.

Who is happy with our current system? The teachers who care feel like their hands are tied. The parents who care feel like they are taxed to the point that they can’t afford alternatives. The kids who care feel like they are aren’t getting pushed or learning what they should. People who don’t even have kids are feeling ripped off because they are forced to pay for a failing system.
I’m speaking in generalities of course.

In fact, I can’t think of anyone outside of the NEA and politicians who have anything to gain by keeping this system.

Comment by sadcox

I know many very successful training and development consultants who have tried to help in public education but have given up. I think each has said, “it’s like pulling teeth.”

In the corporate arena, we struggle with the measurement issue but it’s not around measuring trainer performance or even knowledge acquisition. It’s about how do you track training to business outcomes.

It would be the same in public sector as tracking education to getting a good job or something like that.

Comment by Steve Rosenbaum

Sadcox, you’re dead on – and that’s why I’d agree with Dawn about dismantling the system so that the parents and the community can decide what would best suit their needs. Some may argue that in doing so, many would get neglected. Yet isn’t that already happening? And wouldn’t it force those parents whose kids are at risk to stand up and do something for their own kids rather than pawn it off as a problem for the gov’t to fix? I would hope so . . . but you never know.

@ Steve: I was one of those successful educational consultants you mentioned – and I did give up. I was a reading consultant that trained teachers and administrators on providing reading instruction in public schools. It was amazing that no matter where I traveled to (in 8 different states), I always seemed to encounter the same brick walls. The best part was that those brick walls oftentimes seemed to be held up by the very people that were proposing to knock them down (administration).

Top down, right Dawn?

Comment by avill7

BTW, Dawn: I haven’t read him. I’ll be sure to check him out, though – thanks!

Comment by avill7

Hey, Avill, where’d you go? You’re really slacking here! =)

Comment by Daddy Dan

Thanks for the kick in the ass, Dan. I wasn’t aware that I hadn’t contributed in a while All this baby-caring make the days blend together . . . I don’t even know what the date is! Warn your wife of that too – lol!

Comment by avill7

Thanks for the kick in the ass, Dan. I wasn’t aware that I hadn’t contributed in a while All this baby-caring make the days blend together . . . I don’t even know what the date is! Warn your wife of that too – lol!

Comment by avill7

I guess my kick in the ass didn’t work! Here’s another one! =)

Comment by Daddy Dan

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