There are now waiting lines for pre-school. Yes, two years before my boy steps foot into his pre-school, he gets put on a waiting list. This must be the ivy league of pre-schools.
I had a fluke event during kindergarten reading hour (which morphed into nap time). My friend Davy was lying down next to me, on my left. I don’t remember the story being read, but I distinctly remember what happened next.
The fluorescent light above us began to flicker. As I stared at the light in awe, the light popped and broke on one end. Something inside me forced me to push Davy–into a row of desks, bloodying his nose. The weight of the light dangling from one end proved too heavy, and the light crashed directly where we had been lying.
Davy was crying. He failed to see that I’d saved his frickin’ life. His nose was bleeding, the teacher was screaming, little girls peed their pants. Nap time was over.
This was the beginning of my education. And make no mistake, I liked learning. Still, the very act of sitting in rows staring at a teacher never made sense. How is a test going to really going to prove you’ve learned something? Answer: It doesn’t.
My son will enter this school system soon, a system that closely resembles the one I trudged through. Classrooms with ~30 kids regurgitating what the Education Department believes is important.
I have already drawn up my plan towards my sons’ classes. I plan to know his teacher better than most. I want to know where he/she has been and where they’re going. I want to know where they stand and how they grew up. I want to know if they’ve travelled. I want to hear them tell a story and tell a joke. I plan on holding them to a higher standard. When you give a kid responsibility and trust, they shine. So will my teacher.
Our educational system shows signs of being inflationary. The degrees needed when I went to university are only the beginning of what is needed today. Tuitions are astronomical and are not matched by quality. Textbooks are obsolete before they’re finished printing. I must face the reality that this is not a world I’ve seen before. We must gaze at our environment with new lenses.
How can we (an obese nation, by the way) move our classrooms out of an actual ‘room’? Biology in a nearby field, language at a public speech, math…well, anywhere but behind a chalk board.
Everyone learns in their own special way. I won’t get into it, but I know that you can read 10 books on starfish, but until you see one in its own habitat, you don’t know starfish. We live in a world where everything is digital. There will come a day when “I’ve actually seen a starfish!” means more than anything.
This isn’t about entertaining kids. It’s about knowing the world around them, writing about what they see, and learning actively.
Just look at them–sitting in their seats in neat little rows, all day-dreaming…reminds me of the unemployment line.
Brett is a classically trained professional chef, writer of “The RecipeSolace Cookbook”, amongst other tidbits.
He lives in California.