I Dream a World…

Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets, and I Dream a World is one of my favorite poems of his.  I was thinking of this poem today, and I was frustrated and irritated by some things at school (probably because my patience is down due to being in my 9th month of pregnancy) and the combination of these two things prompted this post…

It is the time of year on my campus when students are tired and frustrated, teachers are tired and frustrated, and we are all in need of a break… thankfully we will get a week of “break” starting Monday.  But more than a week of vacation, I think we need a “break” from the current educational philosophy that seems to abound in this country, our state and our district.  We need a break from how education has always been run; we need a break from all the bureaucracy that envelops education, and we need to seriously evaluate what is important in regards to educating our students.

With this in mind… this is what I dream…

I dream a world where education

  • is not governed by people who are out of touch with students’ abilities, goals and needs
  • is not judged as effective based solely on standardized test scores
  • is more about learning and relevancy than it is about meeting AYP
  • encourages individuality, creativity, questioning and stepping outside the boundaries of the traditional
  • addresses student needs on an individual basis instead of measuring everyone with the same stick
  • is a priority to students, parents and society in general
  • is not always viewed as passing assessments equals mastery of content
  • is collaborative, innovative, and fun
  • doesn’t have to occur the way “I learned it”
  • doesn’t just mean focusing on the core classes but allows students to investigate areas of interest to them
  • doesn’t expect students to be experts at all subjects (because let’s face it, most of the adults I know are not and they are still successful)
  • encompasses skills that matter for success outside of the classroom (time management, information management, team work, balancing a budget, social skills, etc.)
  • encourages students to want to learn so they continue to do so when they leave school
  • rewards effective teachers based on their relationships with students, their continued growth and their zeal for teaching (instead of what percentage of students passed a test)
  • does not base a child’s graduation on the passing of four tests
  • values the students’ and teachers’ individuality
  • realizes that teaching a concept well takes time and allows teachers the opportunity to work at the pace of the kids in his/her room
  • emphasizes the importance of  teachers building relationships with students
  • allows time for teachers to continually grow professionally

I am sure by now you get the point, and I could probably go on forever. The short of it is, I need education to change, to evolve into something that fits the society where we currently reside and prepares our students to effectively navigate in this fast-paced and continually shifting world.  I need it to be better, and I am tired of waiting.

So my questions to you are…

What do you dream? And how do we make these dreams a reality?

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2 Comments on “I Dream a World…”

  1. John Brown Says:

    I’m too old to still dream, but if I did I would just borrow your list because it would be right on the money.

    I think that those of you who are still in the struggle can take some heart from the recent election and comments from the President Elect and his spokespersons that decry the use of high-stakes tests as the accountability tool. The backlash to the obscenity of testing is coming!

    The bigger issue is to somehow build a swell of support for a better focus for high school education. High school must be seen, not as a place where we produce graduates who all look alike, but instead as a place where we celebrate the differences among students and help each of them capitalize on their interests, strengths and talents.

    This is something that your school does better than any other with which I am familiar. Albeit that your success has been tempered by the many barriers placed in your way by the educational environment at the local, state and national level.

    Despite that success, I know of no one (including those who have attended your Design Studios) who has attempted to clone the idea of The Academy. So it seems to me that a more compelling case must be made for the value of the education provided by your school.

    At this point in the history of The Academy there exists a wealth of data that must be gathered to provide an assessment of the success attained. I don’t know how you, your principal, or your district can arrange it. But it is time for an in-depth professional evaluation of the outcomes of a high school education at The Academy. Such an evaluation would review the records of students during their time at the school (i.e. dropout rates, student attitudes toward school, internship experiences). More importantly it would review the outcomes represented by the five graduating classes with regard to their success after graduation and their opinions regarding the relevance of their high school experience to their after-high school experience. Importantly, this research would need to do a comparison to the results at the more traditional campuses.

    I am certain that graduates of The Academy are getting a more relevant education and a better start in life than is obtained in a traditional setting. I am certain that educators need to change all high schools to invoke the principles underlying your school. But until and unless someone can provide unimpeachable proof of the difference, nothing will change in the inertia ridden world of education.

    Finally, you must unabashedly blow you own horn! The faculty and students at your school have accomplished something special since it’s opening in 2001. The district, state and nation need to hear your story. You must continue the work! Too many great schools have been beaten down by the educational community. Don’t let it happen!

  2. Mark Dunk Says:

    I dream of a classroom where I am free to go off on tangents when they are germaine to my discussion. I would love to craft a science curriculum that is history-based, tracing the major scientific advancements while studying world history.


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