There is so much in the news these days about Education. It came up three times this week in conversations with different people. I take that as a sign that I need to write and put my thoughts out there on this.
Our school systems over the last several years have become places to develop academically. Children are tested, taught skills, retested, re-taught, assessed. They are constantly being judged and measured on skill levels that are set out by academic programs. It has become the basis of their success (and failure) in education.
There is so much more to a child (and any person for that matter) than his/her academic/intellectual makeup. Education and development of a person goes well beyond Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. There are the physical, the social, the mental, the spiritual parts that exist as well. And these parts are not separate. They blend together, in different ways and degrees of importance to make a person, each area affecting how and where we are in any of the other areas. They exist and are melded together in each individual, each child of any age.
The “spiritual” part that I mention above does not mean religious. By spiritual I mean the core, the inner essence and natural being of each person. Each is different; each is unique; each is on his/her own life path.
Education for me is developing on this life path. It is unique to each individual and it never stops. It is important in childhood because children are dependant on others to assist them and guide them. They have needs that must be met as they grow and develop, especially in the physical area. At the same time, all other areas must be honored as well.
Somewhere along the way, formal education has become unbalanced. I am not saying that intellectual development is not important. I am saying that it should not have the highest priority that it has garnered in our society today. Children spend a huge portion of their waking hours in school, with the main focus being their academic development. Some physical development is allowed (phys ed and recess) and some social is there by nature of being in groups. But there needs to be more,
I can sit here and blame and judge. I can lay fault on “No Child’s Behind Left”, our technological society, financial demands on people, the changing idea of family and so on and so on. The fact is that somewhere along the way our school systems have fallen into a commercial form, where assessment and accountability and cost have taken over. The easiest area to look for these is the academic area, so that is the area that has taken attention and importance. It is difficult to assess physical, emotional, social and spiritual on paper. It is difficult to allow for the unique ways of each individual spirit.
For me, the ultimate goal of education is to assist in developing a healthy happy grown individual, manifesting and continuing to develop on their own. They are valued and value themselves as individuals and are able to happily function in society and move forward on their life path. This path and the process sre different for each; the final assessment lies in each individual. This is not something that our school systems can do alone; it is not something that a parent, teacher, mentor can do alone. And it is something that each unique individual must have input into, no matter what his/her age.
We need a huge change. We need to stop thinking of education in terms of dollars and cents, money spent, budget cuts and costs, and how our children are doing on tests. We need to see it as development of our most precious resource, our children and ultimately, each one of us.