1)."Diversifying the Portfolio"
My first sentiment stems from the fact that enrollment is down at my institution. I didn't have to think hard to ponder why. I think that it would prove highly beneficial if people took educating more seriously. Those of us who have hopes of teaching or feel led to educate have respect for the institution deep in our hearts, but there are those people who were at the back of the line when personalities were being handed out. They don't take teachers and school systems seriously, they act like it's a joke. How can someone's life work be a joke?
To gain respect, (and to gain enrollment) I think it would be a good strategy to "diversify our portfolio." That's what my miserly Grandpa says about just about everything under the sun. One must give more variety into what is being projected and presented in order to attract "buyers." With that in mind, we need to offer more programs at the higher education level that focus on education in different aspects.
I know Education majors are shaking their heads, thinking I am talking about adding more classes. What I mean is that we need a more diverse range of programs offered other than just a degree to teach or counsel. We need to prepare more students to work in areas that promote education or work behind the scenes. Think marketing, lobbying, creating after school centers, making curriculum, experimenting with alternative methods of educating, etc. Some of these already happen to be careers for people with degrees in education, but I think more focus in our society and in our higher institutions needs to be on more than just the classroom. Education needs to offer more diverse career options to attract more people than what it already does. As those of you who have taken EDM310 or are familiar with the class have already heard us preach, the role of education in the 21st century is attempting (at least at the local and individual classroom level) to shift to incorporate technology and 21st century learners, so the institutions that will shape views of education and teaching should do the same. EDM310 should not be the only classroom or place in an institution of higher learning where this is the general theme.
How cool is this? Can you imagine how excited kids would be to learn if schools had marketing like this?
2. "Living Literature"
As a child, I was obsessed with museums. I loved grand architecture, artifacts, hands-on labs, exploration, full-scale models, stories printed on the walls with larger-than-life images, narrated tours, picnic lunches, and especially gift shops. I seemed to learn more in a few hours than in a whole month at school.
I used to wonder, "why can't the classroom be just like a museum?"
First of all, because months of effort, planning, and fundraising goes into opening and curating an
Second, the downside would be that the grandiose effect of the museum would become all-too-familiar and be lost on us.
Why can't we at least attempt to make the classroom somewhat like a museum? Why can't we treat childhood (and even adult or adolescent) exploration as though it were paramount?
One reason why I recently changed my major from Secondary Education/Language Arts to simply English is that I have, to a small degree, given up hope of what I may accomplish in the public school classroom. I simply care too much. I do not deal with disappointment or disillusionment without becoming emotional, and I would hate to see all of my hard work and dreams simply never be realized. It is my conviction that I may get more accomplished by getting more degrees, having a politician boyfriend who can lobby for education reform for me (which Zak will aptly do :D), and to try to write and drum up as much social change as the talent and passion of one very petite individual can accomplish.
"Living Literature" is a placeholder title for a happy place I dream of accomplishing. At this fictional land, children are learning and so are their parents and teachers, walls are lined with full-size examples of what they are learning, difficult concepts are demonstrated or acted out (especially for special needs students and younger students), students are involved in voting on which concepts of the curriculum or subject matter they are most interested in seeing more of displayed, and parents and community members are involved in the whole process.
I see and hear of so many students who don't love to read because it isn't taught. It isn't something you teach, it's something you experience. That's what we need to do. We need students to experience reading and writing like they did at 826 Valencia. The experience needs to be extraordinary and creative, just as reading is. It would be really cool to give the opportunity to have their work read by up-and-coming writers and to work alongside a publishing company like Dave Eggers'. These experiences need to start at a younger age because many children are not receiving the remediation they need by the time they get to high school. They may develop bad habits in writing and grammar, and have little faith in their writing skills. As I tell people all the time, anyone can be a great writer! It takes years of practice and experimentation. Why not start our students off with this practice and love of literacy early?