Somewhere in the school district of Duncanville, Texas, a kid went on an extremely satisfying rant to his teacher about how she doesn't really teach, she just hands out packets for her kids to read.
Granted, we only have his words to go on, and maybe a broader survey of this teacher's students would be a little more generous, but this student articulates what so many people crave from their education experience and so few get: a teacher that engages with them as a human being. Education is not just about information processing, because humans are more than just information processors. Or, in this guy's words:
"If you would just get up and teach them instead of handing them a freakin' packet! The kids in here don't learn like that. They need to learn face to face. ....You want kids to come in your class, you want them to get excited? You gotta come in here, you gotta make them excited. You want a kid to change and start doing better, you gotta touch his freaking heart."
Teaching isn't easy. It takes a ton of energy, focus and willingness to fail. It takes letting your students fail and then teaching them what to learn from that. It's really hard to find people willing to put in that commitment, and we need many more teachers.
So, what to do? Invest, train, innovate. More teachers, better trained teachers, more dynamic education.
One proposed system would be to use an apprentice system, in which prospective educators work with excellent teachers as assistants, bouncing around to a few different teachers over the course of a year or two or three.
People are rightly concerned about the detachment from students that can come from online learning systems like the
Khan Academy, but that only happens if you use the online lessons to entirely replace the school. This ranting student might be much happier if his homework was to watch Khan lectures, and class time was spent working individually and in small groups with the teacher. Some schools are
trying that already.
We can fix education in this country. It's just going to take money, patience and the willingness to try some out of the box ideas.