Sunday, September 8, 2013

What Matters Most in Education?: N = 1

In my opinion, government policy, although well intended, is aimed at faux, short-term wins over true, long-term betterment. As an example, we grade schools, then we rank order them, then we label them, then we color code them. Why? Is this based upon science, or politics? What doctrine proves that these policies make schools any better for kids?

When we watch football on TV, we see performances. At the end, there is a clear winner (almost without exception). What we do not see are the thousands of hours--broken down by position, offense and defense, weight rooms  conditioning, youth football, passing camps, junior high, all alone with a dream, playing catch with dad, watching tapes, planning for practice, half-time adjustments, getting cut from the team. The stuff that matters most--effort, trial and error, repetition, one pound stronger, one-tenth of a second faster, diets, sacrifice, sleep, encouragement, skills, drill, break down--we never see. Our only window in is the game--win or lose? Record. Statistics. Performance.

What matters most in schools and in the learning of individuals throughout life isn't an arbitrary label--gifted, disabled, average, focus, reward, red, periwinkle, highly effective. Rather, it is the thousands of hours of effort that few people ever see that in sum total equal who we are as individuals. Our character, our grit, our spirit, our willingness to run one more lap, study one more minute, try when we feel like quitting, belief in our selves, pursuit of a passion.

Our rewards are not arbitrary, notwithstanding of the labels. Our rewards are very real; tangible. They come often in the form of passion, emotions, relationships, and inspiration--given and received.

I want to educate in a smart world, where we collectively do the best we can for every child. This is the antithesis of politics, which most often represent the will of the majority. Individuals, they are the epitome of minority: n = 1. This makes education much more of a case study than generalizable to the masses. In fact, when you think about a child; a life; a human; a story, the only thing that matters is n = 1.

This is my opinion.

Rod Rock

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